I get notifications from AP mobile on my phone. Beginning Friday afternoon I started to get notifications about the terror attacks in Paris. I finished work, and went to dinner. The notifications continued. We discussed it at dinner. “Did you hear what is happening in Paris? Hundreds held hostage at a concert. Suicide bombers at the soccer stadium. A shootout at a restaurant. Terrible!” “Well did you hear what happened in Beirut?”. I had not.
When I got home, I turned on the TV. To CNN. Then to SkyNews. Then to France24. By this time, there were over a hundred confirmed dead in Paris. It made no sense. I watched for hours late into the night. I multitasked by reading and refreshing my Facebook feed. “JeSuisParis”. “PrayForParis”. People’s profiles were turning blue/white/red – the colours of the French flag. I was yet to hear or read anything about Beirut.
I fell asleep to France24 and woke up around 5am to more terrible updates out of Paris on the TV screen. I know, I have poor sleep hygiene. As a true Facebook addict, I logged on. My feed was awash in blue/white/red. I went to Google to search for news articles on “bombings in Beirut”. Hours of news watching and reading had not shed any light on that. I was surprised to see that the bombing was just the day before. I won’t lie. I got upset. This is what my morning brain shared with Facebook yesterday before I went to work.
We the people of this world are in trouble. “What happened in
Lebanon?” I found myself asking when I found my FB feed and the TV
newsreel full of outpouring and coverage over Paris…I had heard of
neither but quickly brought up to speed on the latter. I would not be
surprised if there are other attacks going on in locations that are not
even on the media radar. Unimportant people in unimportant locations. I
know I’m only being fed what the powers of this world want me to know.
I know the narrative and the pictures are being spun to tell a
particular story. But I also know that deaths are deaths and that sorrow
and heartache are sorrow and heartache, whether they are being felt en
mass in Syria, in Nigeria, in Lebanon, or in France.
At this time, fingers are pointing at ISIS. The same ISIS that has
caused sorrow in the lives of thousands indiscriminate of who, where,
and certainly of our artificial borders. Our artificial borders that
give some of us a false sense of security, a smugness that we are not
like them, and that they need to deal with their own shit over there. I
am reminded of the European “migrant” crisis and of the anger against
people, “foreigners”, who are simply fleeing for their lives seeking
We are one world and we the people are already at
war, or rather I should say that war is already being waged against us.
We are all naked and exposed. We all should be frightened. Can we expect
our governments to protect us? Individually? By aligning with other
governments “just like us”? Can we expect that keeping us safe is a real
goal of those who hold the purse strings, wield the power, and tell the
stories in this world or are we the people going to be truly united as
citizens of one world?
I went to work, struggling to concentrate on the well-being of my patients. Trying not to think of Paris. Trying not to think of the black hole that was the bombing of Beirut and who knows where else in the world. I tried not to feel Black, African, minority, marginalised. I tried not to diminish the pain the people of Paris are feeling. I thought about “BlackLivesMatter” and the outrage against “AllLivesMatter“. I realised that I was feeling “PrayForTheWorld” but not so much “PrayForParis”. My only comfort is that I know I am not alone. In the past 36 hours or so, others have shared my sentiments, some more eloquently than I can ever attempt to. Post and articles such as this and this.
I don’t feel as much anger towards “the media” today as I did yesterday. No, it is our duty, us little people, to remind the international community that we exist and that we matter. It is we that need to hold our leaders, our mouthpieces, accountable. How upset can I be with the West when we do disservice to ourselves?
I’m not Muslim. I don’t believe that Islam is a violent religion. I don’t think Muslim people are inherently evil. Yet, as a non-Muslim I am angry with Daesh. I actually don’t understand what they are after. All I see is bunch of bored and misguided boys and a few girls. If I were Muslim though I would surely be upset because they are misrepresenting what it means to be Muslim. But more than anything else, I would be livid with the leaders of the Muslim world. I refuse to believe that these Islamic countries are helpless and defenseless when it comes to destroying Daesh. It is not for the US, for France, for Germany, or England or even a coalition of European countries to defeat Daesh. Even if it is for the symbolism, the destruction of Daesh must come from a Muslim-led coalition. The response to the events in Paris have made me sure of this.