Paris, Je t’aime / Beirut, Ana bḣibbak

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I’m very upset that I’m writing amidst another disaster.

What happened in Paris is outrageous. What happened in Beirut is outrageous.

What happened on Facebook and Twitter shortly after is also outrageous.

Not long ago I wrote a post encouraging people to stop comparing causes and tragedies.

Here we are 5 months later, and my news feeds are once again filled with comparisons, proving that not as many people read my blog as I imagine.

 

When something terrible like this happens in the world, it is hard not to lose some faith in humanity. It’s hard not to become fearful. Paris, a city not known for its violence, has been under attack twice this year. It’s maddening. And if you were to key in on every atrocity in the world, you would go crazy because it is HEARTBREAKING, and that’s the only word strong enough to describe it.

I’ve seen a lot of people share beautiful tributes to the city of love. My news feeds were full of selfies and group shots in front of the Eiffel Tower and lots of beautiful French artwork.

But like with anything these days, it was also filled with a lot of hate.

The only thing I should be seeing on my Facebook and Twitter is positive, healing words and good, loving thoughts.

But instead I see:

  • People blaming the President
  • People complaining about the French flag filtered profile pictures
  • People mocking people who support gun control
  • People sharing 7 month old news stories from other worldly atrocities?
  • People blaming the refugee crisis???
  • People talking about climate control???? (WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HECK).

Why, when tragedies like this happen, do people feel the need to just start bitching about everything? Because, the first thought that usually comes into my mind when something like this happens, is “Oh my God, those poor people.” Followed by GRATEFULNESS, that, based on location alone, I am still alive.

Like, do y’all just skip that whole “I’m lucky to be alive” phase and just get right to judging all the “sheep” showing compassion to a group of people under attack?

“You only care about Paris because the media’s telling you to.”

Is that why? Or is because I’m a human being with feelings?

It’s not like I’m sitting at work all normal and humanly and then CNN taps into my brain and all of a sudden antennas sprout from my scalp and I start clicking my hands together like a Preying Mantis and talking in a robot voice.

“Time to change my profile picture to red, white and blue and ignore the rest of the world where bad things also happen.”

I wouldn’t accuse anyone of that.

And why are people complaining about the French flag filters on Facebook anyway? It is accomplishing the exact same goal as lighting up City Hall in San Francisco and other various landmarks: to show SOLIDARITY.

You know, just in case some people can’t shell out the $1024 it would cost to buy a same-day one way ticket into Paris, assuming they even let you in since the borders are closed, only for you to get there and just sort of mill about waiting for directions, all because your Facebook friends judged you for changing your profile picture because “That doesn’t help anyone.”

You know what else doesn’t help anyone? Pink shoelaces on NFL players for breast cancer awareness month…but it’s nice to see the support.

 

When people judge someone for changing their profile picture and not “doing anything real to help,” I think they’re overestimating what we can really do from here. We could donate blood…that would stay in America. We could donate money. But this tragedy is so new, that for the most part we are just waiting.

 

To people blaming the President, find a new “thing.” That one’s really overused.

 

If you’re using the Paris attacks as a platform for your pro-gun argument, please sit aaaalll the way down.
A) THIS.

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B) These were SUICIDE BOMBERS. There is literally no way to protect yourself from these people because they are willing to stand right next to you and blow THEMSELVES up. That is a whole new level of crazy that we haven’t even begun to know how to deal with yet.

C) NO, IF A COUPLE PEOPLE WITH HANDGUNS TRIED TO SHOOT 5 PEOPLE WITH AK-47s & SUICIDE BELTS, IT WOULDN’T REALLY DO ANYTHING, BUT THANKS FOR BEING TOTALLY UNREALISTIC.

 

All these Facebook statuses that start with “What happened in Paris is really sad, but…”

NO! There should be NO BUT. Stop right before you type BUT and put a period there instead. “What happened in Paris is really sad.” That’s ALL you need to say.

If you want to say ANYTHING ELSE about ANY OTHER war-torn country that is suffering from terrorist attacks regularly, PLEASE DO. But do it LITERALLY any other time than when the entire world is mourning for something that JUST happened.

Say #PrayForParis and #PrayForBeirut if you want to, since those happened so close together. But DO NOT go listing off all the countries that have ever been a victim of terrorism, because honestly, what is your goal? What have you done for those countries that makes you our online spokesperson?
Oh, you posted a status with a list of countries we should be changing our profile pictures to instead? Man, you really showed us. Can’t wait to see your mirror selfie tomorrow.

 

Multiple people have shared this news story on Facebook today, but no one bothered to read the date. These attacks in Kenya occurred in APRIL. This article RAN in APRIL. The information has been out there for seven months now, why do you decide to share it today under the guise of having compassion for ALL cultures and not just the Parisian culture?

 

“Grandma died today, but Grandpa died yesterday, why didn’t you cry as hard for him?”

No one would ever say something like that and if they did, everyone else would be like, WHAT THE HELL MAN, everyone mourns in different ways.

But this isn’t grandparents we’re talking about, it’s countries, so everyone thinks they have an “intelligent” stance to take on the issues. Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret…

Reporting on one terrorist attack the night of another terrorist attack doesn’t make you look cultured. It makes you look insensitive.

To the people on my Facebook complaining that the Paris attacks were a lot more publicized than the attacks in Beirut… Did you know there was an attack in Beirut BEFORE you heard about Paris?

And if you did, why didn’t YOU say anything about Beirut before Paris?

Because that makes you a part of the problem that you are currently complaining about.

 

And where did you learn about the Beirut attacks? (PLEASE OH PLEASE say Twitter).

Because, I’m assuming that, based on your complaints that Beirut didn’t get international attention, that you learned about these attacks somewhere OTHER than CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, BBC, etc etc etc. What are you reading that the rest of us aren’t? Please enlighten us on the Third World Google Alerts you have on your iPhone.

 

Let’s play a game.

Name something that happened in LA this week. I bet everyone, regardless of where you’re at in the country, can name at least ONE thing that happened in LA this week.

Ok, now name something that happened in North Dakota this MONTH. Anything?

No one feels the need to start a #VisibilityforNorthDakota hashtag? America doesn’t even equally report on things happening IN AMERICA. You can’t possibly. With all the messed up shit that’s happening in this country alone, I’m impressed we can even crane our necks to learn about Paris, much less any other part of the world.

It’s not right. But it’s our reality right now.

 

I wish we covered worldly events more equally too. I don’t want Beirut or any other countries to be stiffed. You know how long they’ve been in crisis? FOREVER.

But this problem doesn’t start and end with your Facebook friends. If you REALLY care about this, you’re going to need to do more than update your status.

 

The problem with Facebook is that it makes a lot of people lazy and judgmental. People can sit behind their computers and point fingers, without having to prove themselves. Oh, changing your profile picture doesn’t DO anything? Ok, what are YOU doing to help?

I saw a status that said something about how if Facebook was going to implement this French flag profile pic option, it should at least also have a place where you can donate money.

You do know that you can just donate money on your own, right? Like, you don’t need a social media site to tell you that you can. You don’t need Facebook’s permission… HAHA, is this something I actually have to point out? (“Well I don’t want to RESEARCH anything, I just want to see a “Donate Now” button right where I put a flag filter over my “no makeup selfie” and then I’ll get back to complaining that every news story isn’t spoon fed to me.”)

 

I spent at least two years of my college career devoted to researching and writing on Female Genital Mutilation in Africa, India, and other parts of the world. I studied world religions and wrote op-ed piece after op-ed piece on the religious, cultural and political aspects of these terrible, torturous practices.

People rally all day long about various feminist issues, but this one is still very rarely discussed.

Is it BECAUSE it happens in poorer countries that don’t get as much publicity as us? Maybe.

Ok, well…more than HALF A MILLION women and girls in the U.S are estimated to be affected of or at risk of FGM.

Why isn’t this discussed here, on our very soil? Why does every Christian I know FLIP OUT any time abortion is mentioned, but is oddly silent about this issue? Why is cutting out a baby WORSE than cutting out the parts that bring about the baby?

 

My point is – it’s all out there. A lot of this is being discussed, it is being reported on.

Nobody READS it.

My feed is just filled with people who are talking about issue x and people who think they are better than those people because THEY are talking about issue y.

But where are you the rest of the year? Silent, just like everyone else.

I know maybe TWO real activists that are doing real things for the rest of the world, or who at the VERY LEAST discuss it on a regular basis.

 

For the rest of us –

It’s not a front page headline. It’s not a real time report on CNN. We get our news from TV and Twitter and Facebook, and unless it’s trending, nobody really cares…UNTIL one bad thing happens that IS reported on.

Then everyone comes out of the woodwork to tell us how we are all terrible people that only care about certain issues.

 

This is like a new wave of annoying hipsterdom.

“But what about this other, less-publicized tragedy?” is the new  “I knew that band before they were cool.”

 

I feel somewhat more connected to Paris because I’ve been there. I’ve taken French classes my whole life. I’ve had a French pen pal. I’ve had a French roommate.

But that doesn’t make me any LESS connected to any other HUMANS enduring any other terrible violence.

We could make ourselves go CRAZY by comparing every bad thing in the world to another bad thing in the world.

We have ALWAYS had to seek out news stories. ALWAYS. This age of hearing about disastrous events in other parts of the world almost immediately is a relatively new thing.

Is technology making us jaded or what? I think the Safety Check feature is the best use of Facebook I’ve ever seen. WHY are we complaining about that? A VERY brief internet search brought up the following numbers:

There are roughly….

1.5 million Facebook users in Lebanon
25 million Facebook users in France (ranking France with the THIRD highest number of Facebook users in Europe, NINTH in the world).
160 million Facebook users in America.

Give it time haters, I’m sure that Safety Check will eventually branch out to other parts of the world. But in the meantime, definitely bitch about the progress and the technological advancements we’ve made.

I’ll just be over here feeling grateful that the FIVE people I know in France at this very moment, are currently safe.

 

Jumping on the “You don’t care about THIS issue” bandwagon doesn’t make you any more caring than the rest of us.

You’re just in the garage band phase of your life, judging everyone who’s going to see Aerosmith in a huge concert venue.

 

It doesn’t make me a “sheep” because I can care about two countries at once. If I didn’t learn something NEW about the world from you, if you were silent UNTIL the Paris disaster, then all you are is an “alternative sheep.”

 

Stop comparing things. AGAIN. Who are you to judge which tragedy affects which person more? Why are you even putting people in that position? Why do we have to pick the BIGGEST tragedy? Is it Paris? Is it Beirut? Is it Japan? Mexico? Baghdad? Or is it the girl I saw on Instagram who took a selfie with only a bra on and the hashtag #StayStrongParis?

 

What ever it is to you, I hope you find peace. I hope you can open your heart to the important issue which is…CARING ABOUT THE ISSUE…and not judging the people who want to show their support to a very deserving cause.

I’ve learned that everything is stronger in numbers. EVERYTHING. Hate. Love. Stupidity.

What do you think a terrorist’s goal is? To DIVIDE. No one gets into terrorism because they want to make a positive change in the world. So prove them wrong. Stop judging people who mean well and start BEING the change you wish to see. Be a champion for peace and progress, not self-righteousness.

 

If you want to talk about other war-torn countries that are suffering from terrorist attacks regularly, PLEASE DO. But talk about it REGULARLY. Don’t wait for one tragedy to spark your concern for another tragedy. Because that’s not real.

Do SOMETHING. Changing your profile picture might not do anything for the world, but neither does writing a status.

“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be. But before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.” – Bob Marley

AND PS. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:

FRANCE:

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

https://soutenir.croix-rouge.fr/connexion

https://don.secours-catholique.org/don_non_affecte/~mon-don/

https://www.secourspopulaire.fr/don#.VkjbwOlH1lC

To open your home in the US to people stranded since France closed their borders, use the hashtag #StrandedinUS. In Paris, use the hashtag: #PorteOuverte

BEIRUT:

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

http://www.warchildholland.org

http://www.lebanese4refugees.com

http://www.basmeh-zeitooneh.org

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