Preface: Paris, my heart goes out to you. I can only hope this tragedy points us toward the hope of a better world.
Whenever a major news event occurs, I always wait a few days to respond (standard protocol kind of thing). First I take a minute just to breathe and make sure I’m neither over nor under reacting; then I check facts and do my best to get the full, unbiased story; finally, though, before I do anything I wait to see the public’s reaction— not as a standard in forming opinions, but simply to decide whether or not my voice is necessary. In the wake of Paris, I feel it is.
I’ve spent probably too much of my life reading comic books. I love the stories and the superheroes and just the idea that the day can be saved. I love every cheesy line in every cheesy Superman story about the goodness of people. But from the public reaction over the past week I’ve seen less hero and more villain. You remember the Joker’s most famous quote from The Dark Knight, the one about upsetting the order of things? Tell me if I’m off base here: thousands of people die from terrorism in Beirut, Baghdad, and Palestine and nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But one major European city gets attacked, and everyone loses their minds. I’ll be the first to admit perhaps the reference is a bit inappropriate (believe me, I’ve been trying to get it out of my head for a week) but isn’t that exactly what’s happening?
I’m talking about both major sides of the public reaction— Pray for Paris and Pray for the World— as well as the other varied responses. I mean, really, PftW, if your cause is such a higher road then why does it have to be a guilt trip? You’re so adamant about telling off PfP for not having cared before, but where was your voice in the calm of the Western world? Shame on you for using somebody else’s grief to make your politically moral stand. And as for you, PfP, guess what– PftW is right. Mourn the tragedy, sure, but is all the Paris-pushing really necessary? You think putting up stripes on your Facebook page morally absolves you from any actual involvement? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you haven’t realized this, but when all’s said and done nobody’s going to see or care about your profile picture except you and a couple hundred friends who have done equally nothing to actually help the global cause.
But I’m not one to critique just for kicks. Otherwise I’d be just as guilty. So here are some suggestions:
- If you or your friends/family have actually been affected by this (or any other act of terrorism), you can of course do what you’d like. You have my love and sympathies and I’m sorry for your hurt and loss.
- If you’ve just gone crazy for Paris because this whole thing has been a rude reminder that there’s a world outside your bubble, your first step is to get educated. Learn about all the things that are happening throughout the world. Find more injustices that make you passionately upset and channel those feelings into consistent productive action— action that lasts beyond the hype of the few weeks after a tragedy. And remember, if you can do nothing else you can raise your voice and be heard.
- If you have been trying to make your voice heard concerning world issues, please don’t make this tragedy your high horse. Continue to fight your fight, but keep in mind that people support you when you support them.
- If you have just decided to have a chip on your shoulder over world issues, possibly out of some misguided sense of attention-craving or need to be unique, this isn’t about you. Let people mourn. If you really just need people to complain about, go bother Starbucks.
- Pray for Paris. AND Pray for the World. AND then go and do something.
I can take my own advice. I’ll be weighing heavily in on world issues, especially as the election comes closer and our foreign policy is in question. Or I’ll just tell you to go watch John Oliver.