We have reached a time where solidarity can simply be boiled down to the changing of a profile picture through a Facebook filter. I cannot help but think that most of this is a display of narcissism. Many folks have made this an opportunity to talk about how they spent a lovely time in France when they were younger or how they love France as they honeymooned there. Perhaps, seeing this, a friend of mine was compelled to say that people would also have shown solidarity with Syria and Iraq had they been equally romantic destinations like France. This is not to belittle the tragedy that is faced by France. It is in the strict sense of the word a tragedy and goes on to indicate the depths to which the terrorist roots have developed. The fear that is felt by those living in France is all too common to us living in Sri Lanka which waged war against terrorists for three decades.
During the time of the Sri Lankan war, people just evaporated in to thin air when they were just at their work places (see this), they disappeared when traveling by train (see this), monks were murdered in Aranthalawa while they were peacefully attending to their religious customs (see this), innocent civilians were brutally shot, cut and chopped into pieces in Kabithigollawa and Gonagala (see this), innocent Muslims were brutally murdered inside the Kattankudy mosque! (see this), the LTTE even killed eminent Tamil individuals such as Lakshman Kadirgamar. The death tolls are immeasurable. Those who are injured still suffer. I can go on with the list till perhaps the end of times. This is just to remind the Western world that we Sri Lankans really do understand your pain! We honestly do! But my problem here is not about the understanding of the pain or showing empathy. I am puzzled as to why Facebook does not come up with a profile filter when equally brutal tragedies happen in the rest of the world. I am amazed as to the fact that some seem to believe updating your status declaring your solidarity with France will solve the issue. I am appalled to see that so-called friends writing on a Facebook wall to ask a friend living in France whether he or she is ok. I am not sure why this cannot be done through a phone call or private message. I cannot understand what the world has come to. Should your solidarity be declared to the whole world for it to feel real? Have we stooped so low that we truly do not care for a cause but merely follow a trend for societal acceptance?
The suicide bomb that exploded in Beirut two days ago killed 43, suicide bombing in Al-Anbar killed 23 in January, a shoot out killed 21 in Tunisia in March, car bombings killed 17 and injured 55 in Baghdad in April, suicide bombing killed 33 and injured over 100 in Afghanistan in April, 45 were killed and 13 were injured in Pakistan in May, a suicide bomb killed 21 and injured over 90 in Al-qadeeh in May, in June 41 were killed in Randi, in Kobani 146 were massacred in June, a mass shooting killed 38 in Tunisia, a car bomb killed 28 in Yemen in June, over 100 were killed in a crowded market close to Baghdad in July, In August over 70 were killed by a truck bomb in Baghdad, in the same month, Baghdad saw another massacre of 20 which also injured over 100, 32 were killed in Yemen in September, a car bomb killed 57 in Baghdad in October, a suicide bomb killed 102 in Turkey in October, a suspected bomb killed over 200 in Egypt in October, a suicide bomb killed 43 and injured over 200 in Beirut in November. All of this was followed by an attack on Paris which killed over 100 injuring many. This record isn’t pleasant. These are just a few chosen attacks that have been attributed to ISIS. In this record I have deliberately abstained from listing those attributed to other terrorist groups. All those who died from these attacks are human beings who feel pain, pleasure and a love for one’s life just like you and I do. I am not sure where and how we lost all sense of humanity and crumbled down to a show of solidarity only for some countries. I am frustrated to note that the world does not seem to display solidarity with all those who suffer at the pangs of death of terrorism. I have no objection to people displaying solidarity with France. My question is why there is no equality in the expression of solidarity. Moreover, if there is a social media outburst on the expression of solidarity, we might as well be doing that every day since there are terrorist attacks on a regular basis that take many lives. Does an expression of solidarity solve the problem? Although I don’t have answers to these questions, I would like those who are reading this to think further on these lines. Together, the world may perhaps be able to solve the issue of terrorism. How – I don’t know. But this I know for certain: it is definitely not through filtering your empathy to certain selected countries.
I further do not understand how and why media and social media (sometimes, over)publicize certain events of horror while paying no attention to some equally horrible horrors. Some will get offended for what is stated here. Some may even say that the timing of this is so wrong and that such things should not be written when there are so many people reeling in pain in Paris. My prayers are really with them. But not only with them. My prayers are with all humanity. My prayers are for those who have fallen, the families that grieve, those who have fallen prey to any indoctrination, brainwashing or extremism that has shown them that it is justifiable to take human lives in vain and with those whose narcissism has risen above any form of genuine sympathy.
I pray that our prayers are not limited to one nation that feels the horrid thorns of terrorism at its heart! I pray, just as Professor Megret did, that some humans are not considered savages who don’t deserve empathy! I pray that we don’t filter our empathy just as we seem to be filtering our profile pictures!