Last week, some terrible things happened – notably in Paris and Beirut. Sadly, much like the constant news we hear about shootings in the US, I fear that we’re all falling into a routine in our reactions to such awful events. It’s not that we’re desensitised (at least I hope not) but it’s very sad that we can now predict exactly how the initial aftermath will play out.
Shock and adrenaline.
We’ve all sat by our Twitter accounts and watched the live feeds as terrible news breaks. We hear rumours of terrorism. We are transfixed – we want the latest updates. People are scared and horrified. Our hearts break. The news becomes a trending topic across social media. We make sure to mention that we’re thinking of all those affected, because now that the world is seemingly so connected via the internet, it feels wrong not to acknowledge that something terrible is happening. We can’t ignore it.
When we hear more and more about the disgusting things that ‘terrorists’ have done, we become outraged. We want to do something. We start to show our support for those who are attacked. We change our profile photos on Facebook. We sign petitions. We share what we feel are important messages on how to navigate such horrible news. If we’re in a position to, we donate to related charities or organise to show up at certain events.
Out come the haters. The ignorance runs rife. Newsfeeds are filled with weird propaganda of scumbags who preach hate against Islam. You start to realise the true colours of people who you used to think were a little smarter than that. You feel disappointment as you start clicking ‘hide’, ‘block posts from this page’, ‘unfollow’. People become competitive and start arguments about who is more caring. We’ve all seen it.
“Oh, look at you all supporting the people in Paris. You don’t even care about what’s happening in x, y, or z every day of the year.”
“Hashtag activism is pathetic and lazy. Why aren’t you actually doing something about it?”
Politicians whose views should never be given the air time come out of the woodwork. It all starts to feel like some sort of shitshow and you despair.
Horror stories break hearts.
As time rolls on, horrific firsthand accounts emerge from survivors. Eventually we click on a couple. We want to know what these poor people have been through. Last night I finally read some and I found myself in tears. I had to stop. It was a luxury that I could. My heart truly does go out to the people who live through events like this. You wonder if your heart can take anymore and then you wonder how people actually living through it must be feeling, if this is how you’re feeling so far away from the situation.
Waleed makes so much sense.
Then the thing comes that we’ve been waiting for with bated breath. The awesome Waleed Aly of The Project comes through with the goods. He is always the voice of reason. He nails everything I’ve been thinking but cannot express as eloquently. Waleed is not taking any bullshit. He will smash your ignorance into smithereens if you let him. He will use facts and intelligence and wit. No-one gets out dumber. A little hope is restored.
What can we change?
Now this is just my opinion, but here’s what I think…
We can stop judging the way other people grieve, mourn or show solidarity with the victims of such attacks. Do you really think you’re a superior person because you trolled or insulted somebody who shows compassion for other people in this world? Do you really think you’re achieving anything by dismissing their love and empathy as empty nothingness? We can educate people about the lesser known social injustices occurring around the world without shitting all over other people who show their support and sadness about something more visible. We can stop buying into racist or xenophobic rhetoric. We can speak up for love and reject hate and anger (that is what fuels such evil people to do these things – why would we think it’s going to make us better?). We can raise children who are generous, tolerant, accepting, but who also know how to critically analyse what they’re seeing and hearing every day from the media, politicians and evil ‘organisations’ who are trying to divide us. We can talk about terrorism as basic, cowardly and an extreme act of stupidity. We can be proactive when we have the opportunity. We can choose our thoughts and our tweets. Like my homeboy Waleed says, we can choose to NOT give ‘terrorists’ what they want.
We can hug the people we love extra hard each day and never let them doubt how we feel about them. We can remember what’s really important. We can send and share that love and kindness everywhere we go. Because love is contagious and it really can start at home. Anger that is directed in all the wrong places is poisonous, but love is energising.
We are all better than a handful of deplorable, awful, violent people. I believe love can win if we choose it.