WORDS + PHOTO | KATEY LEE
Something has been bothering me the past few days. At this point, we’ve all been made painfully aware of the terrorist attacks that happened Friday evening in Paris. We’ve seen Facebook offer a safety check-in for the French and a profile photo overlay with the colors of the French flag. Various monuments around the world were lit up with those same colors and numerous world leaders issued statements concerning the attack and showing their support.
But last Thursday, 40 people died in a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon. On Friday, 26 people died when a funeral was bombed in Baghdad.
Why does it seem that people care less, are less aware, and less compassionate toward these attacks than the one in Paris?
I don’t think that people consciously care less or are less compassionate toward these attacks. If I asked any of you if you think that the lives lost in Paris are more important than the lives lost in Beirut, of course none of you would say yes.
But I think the Western world felt the impact in Paris so forcefully because it happened in a "first-world," mostly white, Western country (like our own). This is why our media sources followed the story more closely, updated more fervently, and showed far more coverage of what happened in Paris versus what happened in Beirut and Baghdad. It hit close to home because, well, it was far closer to home than we are used to seeing.
Now, please don’t hear me saying that the support shown for Paris is anything less than amazing. Solidarity is important in times like this and it’s truly incredibly how much good can come from something so tragic when people band together and support each other. However, I do think that we need to take a moment to realize that these kinds of things happen every single day.
Nour Kabbach, a Syrian who fled her home country years ago and who presently works with humanitarian aid causes in Beirut said this in an interview the New York Times:
“Imagine if what happened in Paris last night would happen there on a daily basis for five years...Now imagine all that happening without global sympathy for innocent lost lives, with no special media updates by the minute, and without the support of every world leader condemning the violence.”
This is reality for millions of people around the world.
It makes you think, how much are we missing? Why don't we hear about the things that happen in Beirut and Baghdad? Or do we hear about them briefly and simply brush them off because they are distant and, well, these places are just violent and they don’t really affect us and we can't really do anything to help them anyways. Right? I don't think so.
Romans 12:14 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." There are people weeping in Paris, there are people weeping in Beirut, in Baghdad, in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt, in India, in Argentina, in Kenya; name a country of the world, there are people weeping there. Why do we have to see a news story about people dying before we pray for their country?
These are heavy topics, but I think the Bible gives us the perfect way to respond to these things in 1 Peter 3:8. “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”
I know that it's impossible to be totally informed about every single event that happens worldwide, but I don't want to be blinded or ignorant or numb to the pain of others just because they don't live in the Western world. Let us respond to these events with compassion, with grace, with patience, and with gentleness. Don’t just pray (or say you’re praying) because Facebook told you to; make it a conscious habit to pray for the world. There may be a few places that need extra prayer today, but don’t wait for the next tragedy to uphold in prayer the lost and lonely people with whom we share this planet.