Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayers for Paris Hashtags Spark Anger on Social Media.

This weekend has been shocking for a lot of people. As many of you know by now, there was a horrific amount of violence that took place in Paris on November 13th.

I was at a bar with friends when the news about what was happening really started trickling in. People were carrying on like they usually do on a Friday night but at some point I spoke to a guy who asked me, “don’t you know what’s going on in Paris?” I said I did and he just looked at me. I looked at him. I then asked him, “Do you know what’s going on in Nigeria and other parts of the world?” He was quiet. I was quiet. Then I said, “The world we live in is fucked up.”

I’m not happy with the way I handled that. I wasn’t rude or unkind. I was dismissive.

Being on social media, I see that people are responding to the tragedy in Paris in different ways. Reading people's comments reminds me of what Lainey Lui said during her Ted Talk, that people can't consume what is in the media without filtering it through the "prism" of their own experiences. She said, "what inevitably comes out the other side, is a pretty definitive declaration about what we believe, what we expect, what we reject and how we process."

I can’t speak for other people. I can only look at myself and try to explore my reaction to everything.

I think I’m desensitized. You see, this isn’t shocking to me. This has been happening in Northern Nigeria for years now. This has been happening in a lot of places. The attack in Paris is not unique in any way. I can see how it could be shocking to someone who may not identify with many different cultures. I can see how the attack in Paris can feel more personal, how a tragedy in a place or to people you relate to can hurt more than a tragedy that takes place in a part of the world that feels so foreign it might as well be on another planet.

I’m not going to mislead any of you into thinking I am aware of every attack in every city in the world. I had no idea Beirut was bombed the day before the Paris attacks. What does it say about my awareness that I had to google, “hundreds of children killed in Pakistan attack” to know about something that happened almost a year ago?

I still feel the need to say sorry. Just because what happened in Paris happens every week in other cities doesn’t make it any less horrific.

I am praying too. I am praying that God helps me to be kind to others. I pray that I am never dismissive again when someone is hurting. I am praying that I never look at a person and only see the ways he/she is different from me.