The night of Friday 13th November 2015 saw awful terror attacks in Paris and today, Facebook gradually turned into 3 colours as people expressed their solidarity with France and the people of France in the face of this tragedy.
I chose not to.
Yes, I feel deep empathy for the victims – especially in this case, where it would seem there was no particular effort to take revenge against any specific people who angered the attackers (edit. 15.11 Ok, maybe it turns out, this is not quite the case as authorities indicate the Bataclan club is well-known for pro-israili activities but what about the others?). I understand that Paris is a place of familiarity for so many people, even if they have never been there - it is the city of our romantic dreams, of many movies, a country of western partnership. They are friends and family.
But for me, the message I want to send and I would love to see people emanating themselves is not that of National Colours. National colours, National borders, flags, are demarcations that help divide us. Underneath it all we are all the same – all human – all God’s children as so, so many believe. There are warring people in every country and innocent victims in every country. In many countries – not least in the west, it is an institutionalised part of governments and of the economy. There exists a strong sickly incestual relationship: Fear, war, money earned from war, fear earned from war, power, influence, money; hunger, desperation, fear, war.....
So today, just like any other day, I really don’t particularly empathise with France. France, like many nations, does some pretty shitty things. The people who died, their families – yes, I empathise very much with them, these casualties of wars fought by their governments and all the too numerous armies of the world and those of religious fundamentalism. I empathise with all ordinary people who are just trying to live a reasonably decent life. I especially empathise with people trying to be peaceful.
And I understand the frustration of those that expressed outrage that people will turn their statuses blue, white and red today but barely make a comment when 157 were killed in Kenya or Lebanon, or…
Let’s be real, there are many awful deaths of innocents around the world on a unfairly constant basis. Yes, news agencies do cover these too, but sadly yes, also, ‘we’ do not jump on the hashtag, status image bandwagon anywhere near as much as when it is white western ‘civilization’ that is affected, and the news coverage is hardly ever of a similar scope, emotion or longevity. This I believe is sadly reality.
Many of my friend’s argue that people pointing this out, are clouding the issue and that there is no reason why this Paris tragedy should not stand alone as an act of atrocity. It is indeed an act of atrocity and of much sadness and one well worthy of us standing up in solidarity against. But it does not stand alone. Not at all. These things are happening all around us to all colours, nations, religions. We all are in this together as humanity; as one world.
This tragedy is a part and parcel of a much wider (w)hole.So yes, I don't think the issue we should be focusing on is supporting one Nation or one Nation's people. We should be supporting something that moves us away from division. Finding a place where we can build peace.
So when I saw the tricolor taking over today, my thoughts went to my favourite t-shirt that I bought one early Saturday morning at our local Flea Market – it has a tree dripping with peace-sign fruits and says simply ‘Grow Peace’. So I made my status image a version of tha.
This is the strong desire days like this cause in me and I do hope more and more people will understand that we must make time and look deeper. There is only one way out of this, and it is togetherness, common humanity – standing together as one world, one people, in peace.