From Beirut, This Is Paris: In A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives 


When a friend told me past midnight to check the news about Paris, I had no idea that I would be looking at a map of a city I love, delineating locations undergoing terrorist attacks simultaneously. I zoomed in on that map closer; one of the locations was right to where I had stayed when I was there in 2013, down that same boulevard.

The more I read, the higher the number of fatalities went. It was horrible; it was dehumanizing; it was utterly and irrevocably hopeless: 2015 was ending the way it started – with terrorists attacks occuring in Lebanon and France almost at the same time, in the same context of demented creatures spreading hate and fear and death wherever they went.

I woke up this morning to two broken cities. My friends in Paris who only yesterday were asking what was happening in Beirut were now on the opposite side of the line. Both our capitals were broken and scarred, old news to us perhaps but foreign territory to them.

Today, 128 innocent civilians in Paris are no longer with us. Yesterday, 45 innocent civilians in Beirut were no longer with us. The death tolls keep rising, but we never seem to learn.

Amid the chaos and tragedy of it all, one nagging thought wouldn’t leave my head. It’s the same thought that echoes inside my skull at every single one of these events, which are becoming sadly very recurrent: we don’t really matter.

When my people were blown to pieces on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, the headlines read: explosion in Hezbollah stronghold, as if delineating the political background of a heavily urban area somehow placed the terrorism in context.

When my people died on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, world leaders did not rise in condemnation. There were no statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people. There was no global outrage that innocent people whose only fault was being somewhere at the wrong place and time should never have to go that way or that their families should never be broken that way or that someone’s sect or political background should never be a hyphen before feeling horrified at how their corpses burned on cement. Obama did not issue a statement about how their death was a crime against humanity; after all what is humanity but a subjective term delineating the worth of the human being meant by it?

What happened instead was an American senator wannabe proclaiming how happy he was that my people died, that my country’s capital was being shattered, that innocents were losing their lives and that the casualties included people of all kinds of kinds.

 

When my people died, no country bothered to lit up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. Even Facebook didn’t bother with making sure my people were marked safe, trivial as it may be. So here’s your Facebook safety check: we’ve, as of now, survived all of Beirut’s terrorist attacks.

 

When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.

And you know what, I’m fine with all of it. Over the past year or so, I’ve come to terms with being one of those whose lives don’t matter. I’ve come to accept it and live with it.

Expect the next few days to exhibit yet another rise of Islamophobia around the world. Expect pieces about how extremism has no religion and about how the members of ISIS are not true Muslims, and they sure are not, because no person with any inkling of morality would do such things. ISIS plans for Islamophobic backlashes so it can use the backlash to point its hellish finger and tell any susceptible mind that listens: look, they hate you.

And few are those who are able to rise above.

Expect the next few days to have Europe try and cope with a growing popular backlash against the refugees flowing into its lands, pointing its fingers at them and accusing them of causing the night of November 13th in Paris. If only Europe knew, though, that the night of November 13 in Paris has been every single night of the life of those refugees for the past two years. But sleepless nights only matter when your country can get the whole world to light up in its flag color.

The more horrifying part of the reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks, however, is that some Arabs and Lebanese were more saddened by what was taking place there than what took place yesterday or the day before in their own backyards. Even among my people, there is a sense that we are not as important, that our lives are not as worthy and that, even as little as it may be, we do not deserve to have our dead collectively mourned and prayed for.

It makes sense, perhaps, in the grand sense of a Lebanese population that’s more likely to visit Paris than Dahyeh to care more about the former than about the latter, but many of the people I know who are utterly devastated by the Parisian mayhem couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what took place at a location 15 minutes away from where they lived, to people they probably encountered one day as they walked down familiar streets.

We can ask for the world to think Beirut is as important as Paris, or for Facebook to add a “safety check” button for us to use daily, or for people to care about us. But the truth of the matter is, we are a people that doesn’t care about itself to begin. We call it habituation, but it’s really not. We call it the new normal, but if this normality then let it go to hell.

In the world that doesn’t care about Arab lives, Arabs lead the front lines.

 

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632 thoughts on “From Beirut, This Is Paris: In A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives 

  1. My heart goes out to the people of Beirut for their loss. I am so sorry that our country has not acknowledged that horrific event. It is a naïveté that Americans see the countries in the Middle East as all the same. It is also that many have a connection with Paris that they don’t have with Beirut. Know that many of us have you in our hearts and thoughts.
    May peace come to all of us
    Pamela

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    • We,Who you dont think CARE for árab lives keep soldiers (Spanish ,french,italians,etc…) working and getting killed in Beirut trying to avoid Lebanese people
      Killing EACHOTHER.
      YOU HAVE BIGGER RELIGIÓN INTERNAL PROBLEMS
      AND YES,SOME DEADS MATTER MORÉ THAN OTHERS TO EVERYONE.
      DONT BE JEALOUS IF SOME RECEIVE MORE ATTENTION.
      WE DONT SEND OUR KIDS TO EXPLODE IN A BUS OR …..

      LIKE IT OR NOT IT IS GOING TO BE WAR
      CHOOSE SIDE

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      • “Some dead matter most than others…” who do you think on earth you are? A more human than those people out there who are living worst than dead people? Your this very statement describes the ultimate shallow personality and thinking of yours, not even sorry to say this.
        ..”we dont send our kids to explode bus”… ahhh wish you could read between the lines. It requires only a little knowledge of current and past affairs to get the idea of the whole damn thing. Wish you had sense enough not to see these muslim world as terrorists. Mam you badly need to learn why your so called US french italians n bla bla forces are losing their lives (little that i know), who are the very same reason for creating terrorism in the whole world.
        I wish you never get the chance to ever see your kid blown up in some terrorist activity, its easy to speak than to suffer. Better THINK before you speak.

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  4. I am just commenting on your interview with a popular canadian radio program ( as it happens). Mr.Fares, You made some very strong points, your message was clear and well delivered to a north american audience.

    Thank you so much

    mazen
    British Columbia

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  5. Pingback: Beirut mourns its dead - News-9.comNews-9.com

  6. I think I can only underline what Pamela has written. If you could only see the newsfeed on my facebook… Many people mention Beirut, and many people, instead of just “pray for Paris”, write “Pray for Beirut and Paris”. It’s not unnoticed, I assure you. Maybe by the governments and most public orginisations, but not by the people.

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  7. Pingback: Facebook attiva Safety Check per Parigi e non per Beirut: in Libano vittime di serie B? | NUTesla | The Informant

  8. Of course everybody in the world cares about the victims in Beirut, we were shocked when we heard the news in our newspapers (nobody gives importance to Facebook or else) and we were also shocked about the victims in Turkey, and we are also shocked about that what everyday happens in Afganistan. But it´s normal that what happens in Europa touches more European people, so as what happens in Asia touches more the population in Asia and what happens in Australia touches the Australian people. It´s completely normal, that´s why I wonder why the carnage in the arabic world touches so little arabic people. Why do you accept that in the Middle-East the life of one singolar human beings is so little worth. It´s you who have to wake up in your spirit (and then to other people of your own continent) the Humanismus that was in the times of the renaissance a mark of the arabic philosophers and scientist. It´s every arab who has to love his life and not expect that other people do it. So I don’t understand why you separate arabic from european people. It´s all the same, and allover the world every one of us has to love his own life, as a wonderful gift, and respect it in himself and other people, independent of their religion, social or economic status, race or sex. Thanks…

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  9. I’m very sorry for your feelings to be treated like a second class. I can understand your anger. It’s eaqually tragic for every human to die no matter where in the world they are from! Sadly it’s only human to have sympathy with the ones that are closest to you, with the ones you can identify with the best. It’s something else to hear a number in the news of people who died (as you hear everyday) or if you hear about hostages shot one by one while you’re zapping from one European TV station to another… I hope you can understand that! Anyway, I also dont think its fair.

    But I believe the only thing that matters now is, to make it a unite world! To fight all this hate with love. And to stop talking about borders. You’re right, there’s no reason why now and why not after Beirut, but the sooner the better. It’s important to make everyone realize that it’s not a problem of muslims but of a few monsters. Because hate against Moslems creates suffering for the eastern world and hate against the western world. In the end, this is what creates monsters and what makes the world a bad place.

    Stop the hateful comments! By not stopping you are on ISIS’s team without realizing it. We don’t need a war between the eastern and western world. We are a civilisation with values where a human life should be worth a whole world!

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  10. Dear Elie,

    Muslim lives matter, Black lifes matter, Jewish lifes matter, Palestinian, American, French lifes matter, all lifes matter. All lifes matter the same! Yet people typically are more concerned about lifes lost closer to home, be it geographically closer, culturally closer or whatever. I guess that is just normal. Nevertheless I can understand your feelings expressed in your blog entry. I feel with you!

    But let me give you another perspective on the matter:
    Do you remember the people dancing in the streets in many towns of the muslim world when the Twin Towers in New York came down? Was Beirut one of them? Did you think of that when you wrote your blog? You probably were too young in 2001 to remember your feelings.

    Being German I would like to share with you one more thought that sits heavily on many a German’s mind even today: Germans committed probably the worst crimes against humanity ever some 75 years ago.
    In the aftermath there were and still are lots of people who found good arguments that these deeds were a natural part of German nature. Others argued and still argue the opposite: These deeds have been a total deviation from German nature and culture, the culture of Goethe, Beethoven, Kant. Do these 2 sentences sound familiar when you think of the discussions in how far Islam is responsible for the savage deeds of Al-Quaida or IS?

    Let me tell you how I personally deal with this black hole in German history: I do not feel guilty for what Germans did 1939 to 45, but I feel responsible to stand up whenever the lessons learned from these events are not followed anymore. That for example makes me stand up in support of Israel, when Muslim groupings threaten extinction and it makes me stand up in support of the Palestinian people when Israel takes away their breathing room.

    Why am I writing this? While I do not believe the faith of Islam bears responsibility for the horrible crimes committed in its name I feel very strongly that it is every Moslems responsibility to stand up against these deviations and push the religious and political authorities of the Muslim world to act. In the end the majority of victims of islamistic terror are Muslims.

    But I do not see this push in Moslem societies. Why?

    Let me grab one example only: The Shia/Sunna divide. It is one of the (many) problems lying deep under the turmoil of the Moslem world. And its influence keeps growing worse! Where are the Moslem masses who push the religious and earthly authorities of Iran and Saudi-Arabia to look for a way to settle this 1300 years old problem?

    Dear Elie, I don’t even know if you are Moslem, Christian, agnostic or what you believe in. But I mourn with you and the people of Beirut and Paris!

    Yours

    Klaus

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    • I agree with Klaus and I think it is imperative that the Muslim world must stand up against the violence. Any intervention from the West would be seen as an intrusion. We cannot fix the problems it must come from within, if not prepare for more death sadly.

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      • While what you said is true, much was left unsaid.

        Islam commands its followers to spread the beliefs — to convert the “infidels,” as the rest of the world is called.

        The most devout Muslims are the strongest believers in the writings of their Prophet, so I consider them to be more likely to believe that extreme measures are justified … or even required — in the conversion process. If that’s so, then a Muslim who considers himself a moderate and wishes to have a stand-down from the violence may be seen as an enemy of the necessary process of spreading Islam. The act of denying all or part one’s faith is called apostasy. In Islam, it is punishable by death. It’s not like moving from Wisconsin to Florida when you retire. Death.

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  16. AUSTRALIA shares in your pain.
    The response to the French slaughter is because we have a bond with Europe that is generations long. Many Australians have deep roots in in Europe.
    Most of the western countries have been colonised by France England and other European countries. Also, the bond from 2 world wars. Where we fought side by side. It was a great achievement to create and maintain peace in Europe. Also, countries that were enemies now have a strong bond. Europe is an example of how peace can work. It was a shock to the world to have that peace rocked.
    Lebanon also should be honoured with peace as well, and develop a bond that will continue on the same path. If you felt you were forgotten..it is so sad. I know many in Australia who would not forget your pain too. They refused to only support France. We should have spoken up more. It is the same enemy we must all fight. Peace be among you. Sympathy to all those who lost family. A hero among you that surely will blessed and never forgotten.

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  19. Maybe Arabs should start thinking about killing in the name of their own religion… Look at the Arab peninsula or any other Islamic state… And please state which country believes in the freedom of its own people. Don’t pinpoint at Paris. Start changing the damn hatred in the Islamic countries. And maybe then you’ll get the same sympathy

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    • it’s true a ot of arab governments don’t their people freedom, but you ignore is that the populations want freedom our governments don’t represent as the terrorists don’t represent 1.6 billion muslims those terrirists cold easily have chosen chritianity or communism or whatever ideology and use it in the same way. and because you are that much ignorant we don’t need your sympathy ..

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  21. As soon as I heard if the Paris attack I immediately thought of the Lebanon attack. Just watching the wall to wall coverage on BBC,ALJAZEERA,CNN etc..I realised the difference in how both of the situations were handled by the media.
    I feel for all those Killed in Beirut, yet you are asking do Arab lives not matter.? They don’t matter. You Lebanese think you are better than other Arabs especially poorer dark skinned Arabs you think you are almost like white European when you are not.
    You Lebanese are even more racist to other people such as Africans, filipono’s,Srilankans,Bangladeshis etc… Who do all the horrible jobs you don’t want to do! Many maids in homes are sexually physically abused by you Lebanese. Now you want sympathy from others! Well you are not going to get any from a lot of people. White Europeans and Americans see you as what you just Sand niggers put you all in the same category. They don’t see you as being white like them.

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  22. I am a Christian and a US Citizen. I hold no grudge against any one of other faiths. I do not believe killing and wars will solve our world’s problems, but I did serve in the US Army and would fight to protect my homeland, just like anyone else would. Putting Faith, Country Citizenship, and prior Military Service aside, I hope I can speak as a human being which is the way I view other people, no matter where they come from or what they believe. Actions speak louder than words. If I judge others, I will be judged by the same manner. What the young father who was with his daughter worshipping at the Mosque did is way beyond what any human being should have to do to worship peacefully. His ultimate sacrifice saved others and the family of others. He really is a real hero, no doubt about it! I will pray for his soul, and his family and friends. I pray for peace. Only love will win over people, not war, hatred, persecution, etc. The Media will cover the worst in human behavior, no matter where it comes from. They want to ‘sell’ news. Advertisers know this and the news media sells it’s advertising space and makes all kinds of money at it. Plus people get upset when bad things happen. Honestly, I am on a break at work and just learned of this man’s sacrifice. I as a Christian, would have been honored to know this Muslim man and his family.

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  23. hey someone. even if you might not read this comment – and though this must have been said already by anyone (sorry, I am just too lazy to read aaalll comments) – I would like to say to you, it is not because you’re not white and we don’t like you. but truely. it’s because these horrible attacks nearly never happen in a modern European country or in the North of America, whatever. that’s why all people in the world go crazy. and.. sadly but also true: people are tired, really really tired of news of attacks in states of Middle East, that’s why it seems we wouldn’t care for it any more. it has become “normal”, you know.
    and in fact, senator wannabe e. a. stern is a miserable mistake of manhood.

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  24. You could change “Beirut” with “Jerusalem” and “Arab” with “Jewish” and this post would be just as true. For the first time, Israelis and Lebanese appear to be in the same boat. The irony…

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  27. It is a long comment with a few thoughts, i am a little bit sorry that i cannot express briefly:

    Is an Arabian life less worthy than a French, European means western one? Speechless and touched by the attacks on Beirut and Paris you came to the conclusion that the world spend more sympathy to the attack on Paris and attached no importance to the attempts on Beirut because the world doesn’t care. Do we not care? In context of the past attempts on Beirut, Bagdad, Aleppo, Teheran almost nobody can deny the sadly thoughts “Oh my good not again” only afterwards to go back to daily business. Sometimes a marginal note in newspapers or news no value for breaking news. To combine suicide bombers with the Arabian world is so much self-evident like the combination of football and beer in our world. We have become so desensitised to the violence that not happens in front of our own doors. If this statement is wrong, we as a society would have been probably more cared about things which happened in Lampedusa or our governments had dealt with the Syria conflict already three years earlier.
    Paris lies on our doorstep and shows Europe painfully that the conflict, the danger, the suicide bombers do not disappear not least because we try to ignore them. France has the same Western identity like Germany, Belgium or Italy. Well we German joke about French baguette, make fun about their language and cars and we are jealous on their savoir-vivre. But they share this Christian influenced socially value culture and they are our neighbours! Our deepest consternation is fuelled by the knowledge that our modern, wealthy society can whether completely protect nor seal off from these barbarian happenings in the Middle East although it seems to be so far away. Our way of life, our culture, our identity is a single goal of IS. And now we come to an important point: this concerns every western influenced culture you can find in US, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or in parts of South America or even Shanghai (explicit not China). Please correct me but no one else coloured its monuments e.g. in Asia or Africa (why should they).
    So in some way you Elie Fares are not wrong with your accusation. The pictures of Paris went around the world and the representative solidarity with them. Beirut and the attempt just one day earlier were left behind in the mind of people and media and were put off to a file which is named “one of many”.
    Is this legit? Yes. Is it appropriate or right? No. You are right. These are examples which are the wind in the sails of even those who increase violently the division between Muslims and Christians, Orient and Oxidant, the Western and the Arabian society. This is the kind of behaviour which is interpretable for the terroristic taste of IS: The disbelievers only care about themselves and just in second line maybe about the rest, their chosen “good Muslims”- or to exaggerate- the disbelievers do exactly that what they have done hundred years ago with other human beings on the African subcontinent, classified people as human being second class.
    This is not right and not true! But even though it is not completely wrong. Exceedingly few of us understand the Islamic religion or the “Arabian culture” in detail, except stereotypes. Exceeding few of us understand the history of clans and tribes, the conflict between Sunnites and Shiites, social fabrics of different states or its philosophies. After the longest time of peace Europe ever had, we are spoiled by it. And we cannot and sometimes we don’t want to understand these situations and religious conflicts although it happened in Europe exactly in the same way hundreds of years ago. Populations are prone to forget their own history and try to compare different cultures; Governments are prone to take these situations as they are because of their geo politics interests: Syria is a prime example; Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 as well.
    Yes we regard the world in the Near East and their habitants different. Because we live another way of life, we have another culture and maybe religious identity. We cannot deny this, everything else is a lie, to say you Elies are wrong is a lie. But in one fact your perception is not right: An Arabian life is not less worthy and most of the people do not think that. But you cannot force sorrow and sympathy let alone share it equitably. This is morbid, provoking and senseless. But you can remember the people and your own fellow men (for example with your words like these). When you are right with your impression that your own people submit in a role of penitent, so it is a symptom but not yet a Destiney. Believe me, I am a descendant of Hitler-Germany and we all know and understand this role and heritage. But you can fight against this symptom. It needs resistance and power and this typical stereotype of faith by all of you and us. Without faith and fight everything is lost. Even against a violent, revengeful, inhuman and blended Calafat of IS. And every day should someone remind of this and stand up, we stand up too.
    These are my thoughts and I am not able to speak in the name of everybody but with a view on good and bad sides of human history I am used to propagate my thoughts.
    Thanks for your attention Elie Fares and thank you for your thoughts.

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  29. There does not seem to have ever been peace in the Islam religion. With a sectarian war raging, a civil war raging, ISIS in the midst, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Nusra Front, The Free Syria army, and I can’t even name all the groups…how will there ever be Peace in the Muslim majority Middle East? The world would love that! The story is continuous, disastersous, old, costly in human lives, property, and largely a problem amongst Muslims, not because Westerners don’t care, but because we are hated even more when involved. So, when westernized countries fall victim to Islamic Extremists, you can be sure it will get more notice in our countries.
    That said, the gentleman who jumped on the bomber was an incredible hero. I’m sorry for the bombing, sorry it didn’t get more attention, sorry the Arab world feels slighted, but am glad to hear of that Father and his daughter’s valor and sacrifice. That’s what people won’t forget.

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  31. As a Christian, I believe all lives matter regardless of race,religion, gender etc. God loves all and we are called to do the same. I pray for peace, love and understanding in France, Lebanon, Isreal and anywhere there is hatred and oppression. Hopefully Canada can do its part to help in the Middle East as well as France. We have you both in our prayers.

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  34. Davis is correct. When the whole of middle east is full of rascal militias trying to kill each other, and moderate Muslims do not seem to care to replace them with democratic government of their own. Why would the rest of the world care much about the middle east? It is as if there is no life in the middle east unless some western power interferes! Such being the case, there is no doubt unwillingness on the part of the rest of the world to be sensitive to what is happening in the middle east on a routine basis. Paris incident is a one off incident. Enough of this ‘I am superior, or my religion is superior to other religions’ bull shit. It is this radicalism that leads to terrorism. These ideas have most certainly lead us to intolerance, and caused terrorism in thought and word over centuries, and now in action. My prayers to all dead in Beirut, Paris, New York, Mumbai, and the 150,000 innocent Pundits killed in Kashmir by terrorists.

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  35. I live in Paris and while the violence here hits closer to home, I consider all of the attacks atrocities. France, Lebanon AND Russian victims, we mourn for you all.

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  37. Dear Elie,
    I thank you for the courage to speak your mind and express your emotions. Every life is the manifestation of God and nobody has the right to play with this.

    Irony is that all these atrocities are committed under the name of GOD / ALLAH / JAWHE, the same ONE GOD, by so-called “true believers”. The bastards of Daesh, or Hisbollah, or Al Qaeda or any other filthy group of criminals, which hide behind a religious sticker to commit their cowardly and barbaric acts, know very well that they will be punished in hell. They are the living proof that there is EVIL which we must fight every day.

    There is some truth in this when you believe “the media”, the unsavory courtisane of “the politics”, is playing to create division, anger and hate. It is their game and they make money from this. It is only us, the people, who can change the course of action.

    Only then we can have peace in the Middle East when every single life is seen as holy and sacrosanct, be it Lebanese, French, Palestinian or Israeli, Sunni, Shia, Christian and Jew.

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  40. As a french myself, I was shocked and saddened about the attack in Paris (where I don’t live) but couldn’t help thinking the same things as you. We had another attack previously in January and in the meanwhile Daesh attacked many other places and countries but reactions weren’t that strong. “Why do we care, it’s in Africa or Middle East, they always fight over there !” seems to be the reaction of media. It’s awfully true, we’re getting “used to” terrorist attacks but why the one in Paris is more awful than another ?
    Now, I think it’s too much and a bit unfair for all the other people in the world suffering because of Daesh. I think the international community (G20, UN) could have done more against Daesh long before Nov 13th but we let them get power and become bigger and bigger. I hope this time they’ll be able to do something… but it’s a difficult fight.
    Anyway, please remember that we have a heart and it doesn’t mourn only french people but all other victims in the world even if the media don’t speak about it. You pointed a problem that is probably related to the world history ; Europe and USA are still considered more important than other places. I hope it’ll change in the future but I’m afraid it will take long time before all the people of the world will be really considered as equals in all ways.

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  43. Reblogged this on The Spirited Soul and commented:
    In every situation life presents, there are always multiple perspectives to consider. These recent events in our world are on a huge scale, so much suffering. Thank you to this perspective from stateofmind13.com which I am reblogging here.

    In every encounter we have in life, large or small – be it family, friend, or foe – all perspectives matter…in every way, especially now. We are one big dysfunctional family in an ever-shrinking world. We need a major dose of group therapy if we are going all manage our coexistence.

    Before taking sides, after what likely are normal & natural reactions – along side anger, fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, distrust – we must calm & begin listening, hearing, seeing. Maybe it is naive, but it is my hope that ultimately we can allow caring & compassion to inform our decisions.

    Being part of a family is hard enough…7 billion brothers & sisters trying to survive on one little planet…terrifying.

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