Post Paris

peaceI was surfing Facebook when I saw the first of the articles hitting the news stream about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Then my phone went crazy, when every exchange student whatsapp group that I’m a part of lit up, with everyone asking each other if they had seen the news and can you believe what’s happening?

This is likely an event that will become of those moments that everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they found out about it. Where were you when Kennedy was shot? Where were you when you found out about 9/11?

I was on a couch in the main room in my host mom’s apartment in Brazil when I heard about the ISIS attacks in Paris.

I ended up turning my phone off and reading a book, because while I wanted to know what was happening, I was also sad and couldn’t handle scores of misinformation and terror.

Now we are five days post the moment, and we have entered the world of debate. The big question gracing social media these days is why did Facebook put up a profile picture filter in support of Paris, but not is support of Beirut? Articles are being written about the tragedies in Beirut and Baghdad, and that we are a cold and callous people to have ignored those attacks, when instead the only thing dominating CNN is the attack in Paris. I’m seeing posts reminding people that Paris isn’t the only tragedy that happened recently, and that we should pray for world peace instead. I’m in groups that are talking of making videos with messages to the survivors and the families of the victims in Paris, and yet the loudest voices are those of the people asking why it matters that we stand in support of a country reeling from a huge body count when nobody is going to watch the video anyway.

My response to these outcries of who is more important than who is simple.

Please don’t attack me because I feel sad about the events in Paris. Please don’t tell me what I should feel sad about. The world is a scary place. And I feel sad about the violence and death that occurred five days ago. I feel sad that stopping terrorism can’t be done with me snapping my fingers. I understand that more terrorist attacks happened beyond the one in Paris. Please don’t tell me what I should feel sad about. We should not forget about the events in Paris just because they aren’t the only acts of terrorism to have happened recently. The acts of terrorism, violence, and war around the world are scary and terrible. What happened in Paris was scary and terrible.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Claire,
    As usual, you have tackled a dicey issue with grace and humanity. You are spot-on in your request for people to respect your feelings. You articulated the thoughts of MANY of us. You are correct in your clear message that NO one is “more important” or “more valuable” or “more worthy of our prayers” in this ongoing crisis. I chose not to do the superimposed French colors on my Facebook picture for that reason. Not because I don’t mourn with France, but because the colors on the picture now include the spectrum of the rainbow. Everyone has been hit.
    Stay safe, my dear young friend. We think of you and all our traveling loved ones SO MUCH. Know that.
    And continue to spread the Light, the Life and the Love where there is Fear.

  2. Dear Claire,
    I have been completely distracted by everything happening in Paris. Your blog post is a refreshing first hand account that expresses some of the things I have been feeling too. Katherine came home from Minnesota for a few days because she was feeling sad and scared and torn and distracted. Sophia is caught up in the blur as you can well imagine. I am trying to work and only sort-of succeeding. I am worried about the backlash against immigrants and refugees and unfortunately, politicians are giving my fears legitimacy. You are strong, smart, human and you are to be congratulated on hanging on to yours. We cannot address the whole world’s problems all at once, as you say. Our emotions–if they are caring and true–may be the only legitimate truth.

    I love you.

  3. Sweet Claire–thank you for your insights. It reminds us of how close we all are really, even though we are far apart. People are scared and frustrated and confused and unhappy, so they talk, write, say and think things without stopping to catch a breath. Yes, the world is a scary place, but it is also a place of beauty, joy and love. There is great humanity and compassion out there, along with great suffering and evil. I am proud of you for having compassion and intelligence and thoughtfulness over all that is happening in the world. It is people like you who will change the world! Love, Mom

  4. Hi Claire, thank you so much for your thoughtful and sensitive post. Your heart and your wisdom are a light in a dark time. Love you.

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