Twitter users posed what I think should be a serious discussion: why is it that we care more about our western European friends more than our African and Middle Eastern allies? More than 100 people were killed in what appears to be an act of terrorism, with six locations in Paris under siege. Within hours, Facebook and Twitter users updated their pages with Eiffel Tower profile pictures and #PrayForParis hashtags. For some in the Twitterverse, this incident seems to eclipse other attacks on other countries with just as many casualties. So why do the French get the media spotlight?
I posed this question to my Facebook friends, and they gave me journalism responses which I, in reality, kind of had a grasp of already: Paris is a metropolitan city, much akin to the United States. An attack there would mean an attack on the United States is just as feasible. Meanwhile, in more “uncivilized” areas, gunfire and explosions are the norm. It’s everyday life for them.
I wanted something deeper. And I think it’s because it angers me that us media consumers accept that there’s nothing more we can do for countries like Nigeria, Lebanon, and Syria. We’re OK with just a “this is what we should do” speech at a press conference in D.C. on page A12 of The Times. Other countries see us running with this slogan of hope and progress, yet we bat a lash at their casualties, and just offer condolences. We’re quick to [x] out if there’s no skyscrapers, Starbucks, or white people involved.
And within that impending loss of faith for humanity, I was reminded: now that I’m aware, I should make sure other people are aware too.
And I don’t have to be an asshole about it either.
It’s important that we inform one another that these atrocities happen everywhere in the world. Of course, they happen more frequently in other countries, but the valuable takeaway is that all lives are precious. Aren’t the children of war-torn countries worth your compassion? Can you shed some sympathy with the parents of those poor teenagers who were slain in Paris? I bet you can. And you should.
But on that same note, I realize how me posing that question can stir animosity. It doesn’t matter that your Twitter or Facebook feed is filling up with #PrayForParis instead of #PrayForNigeria or #PrayForJapan.
It would be nice to be all-inclusive, however, we’re not giving much credit to the human race. To think that there are ranks and rules as to how a national tragedy should look like plays in favor of terrorists. They want to divide us with this idea that one event is more tragic than the other. But we’re more than capable of showing sympathy for more than one event at a time. And the more we learn and spread awareness, the more united we stand.
Now go hug your loved ones, damnit.