Let me start with this: Without a doubt, what happened in Paris is completely uncalled for, unnecessary, and unchangeable. Innocent lives were lost and terror has been set in the minds of people all across the world. But, Paris has not been the only place affected.
As I’m sure some of you have heard, there were incidents very similar to the one in Paris that were happening days before. Innocent lives in Beirut, Lebanon were lost just days before the Paris attacks and by the hands of the same people. ISIS sent in suicide bombers from Syria and killed around 40 while injuring over 200.
I had no idea of the attack until days AFTER Paris.
We, as a society, are largely directed through our media. We really only know anything newsworthy from different media sources across the country and world. We only know what they want us to know. The problem with that, though, is that we also only know what they feel is important enough to know. In the case of Lebanon, it wasn’t a concern.
Lebanon is a small country in the Middle East. The Middle East has more war and suffering than we could ever imagine. Many Americans do not care about the issues of the Middle East because they assume it’s always bad over there or they assume that most Middle Easterners are terrorists. They fear the Middle East. So, why would the media highlight the suffering of the Lebanese people? It’s an occurrence that happens all too often over there. But, does that make it okay? Just because there’s so much violence in the Middle East, does that mean we should care less about those innocent lives lost there compared to the ones in Paris (or anywhere else in Europe, for that matter)?
After the attacks on Paris, my newsfeed filled with images of my friends and family standing in front of/under/near/around the Eiffel tower. People who posted things like “3 years ago I was there” and “it could have been me”. Why did the American media focus so closely on the Paris attacks? Because Americans love to travel to Paris. It’s a bustling tourist attraction for Americans and “Westerners”, so it caught our attention. Because for all you know, depending on the time of travel, that could have been you. Or your friend. Or your neighbor. And all of a sudden, we realize just how real these attacks are. It becomes personal, and we decide to get involved in the conversation in order to help protect ourselves. When there’s a chance that our own lives, or the lives of ones we love, could get hurt, only then do we care.
ISIS is a terrible organization that absolutely needs to be stopped. But, they do have a point. We, as Westerners, are selfish. We don’t care about people around the world as we portray. People across the world are dying every single day at the hands of war and terrorists, but as long as it’s not a place we enjoy vacationing at or visiting, we don’t care. We turn our backs. And a large part of the problem is that we aren’t even aware of it. We don’t know what’s happening, so we don’t even know that we could help. But we can’t keep saying that we’re trying to help people across the world when it’s only true if it benefits us. At a time of selfless giving and “holiday spirit”, I think it’s best for everyone to keep in mind that the greatest gift you could give is to someone who can’t return it.
While killing people is in no way acceptable, we have to realize that there’s a reason these people are attacking us. Maybe it took an event like this to make us pause and look at ourselves from another perspective. We have some work to do, and it will definitely take some time, but we as a society can grow and become better, less selfish people. Thoughts and prayers going out to all of the people that have been affected by any sort of ISIS attack — from the innocent American journalists to the innocent Lebanese people. May God protect us all.