Praying for Paris is not a competition

Last night I spent an hour sat up with my mum watching live coverage of what was going on in Paris. It was absolutely devastating to see the numbers of victims pop up on the tv screen and heartbreaking to know these people who went to the concert hall were going out for a nice out. It was meant to be a good evening for them but unfortunately ended in this horrible attack. I was relieved to finally see the words ‘hostages freed’ on the screen but even now there is still a tight knot in my stomach when I think about it. I will never be able to compare or pretend I know how it feels to be in a country like Paris right now. Much like I’ll never know how it must feel to be a young Palestinian child right now, everyday Israeli forces are using unrighteous force and causing harm and even death to civilians in Gaza. Or how it must feel to be one of the people taking a stand in current South Korean protests, where police have been using tear gas and water cannons on peaceful protesters who are taking a stand about the labour and youth employment policies. I don’t know how selfish and lucky I am to live away from danger and recurring attacks, or understand how lucky I am that, with my white ethnicity, I don’t wake up scared everyday that me or my family could be hurt by policemen and forces using brutality on me because of my race. Unlike the unfortunate list of victims, who are always in my thoughts whenever a story crops up like this, who have been victims of police brutality. I will never know how it must feel to be family or friends of innocent people like Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice, Christina Tahhahwah and Kindra Chapman.

Deep down I know for any terrible situation like these there’s only so much I can do. I accept me and all the people around me online or in real life can only do so much. I understand the media is selective and will hide a lot of facts and stories from us. I understand everyday people cannot stop and mourn because of how common these disasters are becoming and people who are just bystanders like me, who do not know anyone directly involved in these disasters have to pick ourselves up and carry on with our days and we only briefly hear news and stories and evidence. There is 7 billion people on this earth and the amount of crime, terrorism, racially charged attacks, homophobic attacks, breach of rights, suicides, lack of attention to illnesses, diseases and mental health that the earth deals with each day I know how selfish my life is because I do not have to directly deal with these things. I know my privileges in life and with these I want to take as much responsibility as possible and hope little by little I can pay back for some damages.

But the point of my blogpost is not a massive apology for all the world’s problems. I want to open the social media community’s eyes to these disasters because in recent years I always see some people who see problems like these as competitions. People’s lives are at stake or have been taken and this should never be an excuse to try to put people’s actions of support or awareness down. The cold, harsh truth is putting a French flag on your social media profile, or posting a ‘Pray for Paris’ Eiffel tower peace photo on your instagram or tumblr or even posting private statuses to Facebook saying how upset you are about Paris will not solve all problems. Yes in fact it might even do nothing. But step back and think about the perspective of these disasters for a second. This blogpost probably will do nothing but I still want to write it to voice my thoughts. To voice my prayers and hopes for Paris, Gaza, Palestine, Ferguson, the world. To let my mindset flow out into words because who knows an idea to help people might come out of it. What about the pointless French flags on Facebook photos you might say? You might call them attention seeking or say they are doing jack sh*t. But did anyone promise they’d stop these problems? When I see my Facebook full of people changing their profile photos to flags or companies putting posts about how their thoughts are with Paris, I don’t see attention seekers, I see people who have heard the news. I see people who know what’s going on. Imagine if all these people could see the stories in Gaza and other places too. People have hearts and when a news story is publicized as much as Paris, people want to show that their hearts are with the country. We all share this Earth.

What does sitting around moaning ‘people just want to show off and act like they care about the world’ do? It does not make you better than them or mean you are doing more good to the victims in countries affected. Do you know the stories behind the people posting about Praying for Paris? How do you know for definite they haven’t got family or friends there. In this day and age we need to open our eyes and put victims first and keep the word about situations like these alive and open for discussion. Not trying to compete with each other to prove who is the most genuine.

Thanks for reading,

Lenah x x

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