Two months ago, I was browsing Reddit late at night (a common habit for this insomniac) and noticed a thread reporting chaos and tragedy in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
A crane had collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the largest in the world and the destination for hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers making their Hajj pilgrimage just that following week. The collapse had killed over 100 worshippers in the Mosque and injured more than 200. I remember reading this news late at night and expecting to see sweeping media coverage when I woke up in the morning.
But I never really did. Sure, there were a few New York Times articles about it and a footnote mention in my daily Skimm email, but for the most part this tragedy was quickly old news, or worse - never realized by many Americans.
Last night, as I was preparing to fly back to my loved ones Indianapolis after a week in Los Angeles, my heart sank as I read about the devastating terrorist attacks across Paris. Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that I am in no way downplaying the immense evil and horror realized by yesterday’s events. What happened is absolutely deserving of the media coverage and online discussion it is being given. An entire world is grieving and showing compassion and voicing opposition for the hateful religious ideology that caused this tragedy, and it should be.
However, as I was scrolling through the Paris flag profile picture filters and the Eiffel Tower peace sign Instagrams and the #prayforparis hashtags, I found myself weirdly troubled by how quickly people were contributing to the digital discussion and how not quickly we’ve acted in response to other horrifying world tragedies.
When that crane collapsed in Mecca a few months back, did you see anyone posting photos of their trip to Saudi Arabia in memoriam? Just two days ago, seven members of a minority ethnic group in Afghanistan were beheaded - including a 9-year-old girl - and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone sharing customized designs mourning their deaths.
As mentioned, I am in no way discouraging the massive response on social media to the horrific events in Paris yesterday. Instead, I am voicing concern that other tragedies aren’t given similar attention on our news feeds, and I’m not entirely sure why. Is it because these events happen in a region that constantly reports turmoil and hostility? Is it because my average social media connection is demographically not representative of the group that experiences these tragedies? (Yes, that was quite possibly the most politically correct sentence I’ve ever written.) Whatever the reason, I’m urging that we be reminded of the thousands of other fellow humans that are equally deserving of our prayer, advocacy and attention.
This morning, I’m praying for Paris. I’m reminded that men and women are waking up without a spouse, a brother, a parent or a best friend. I’m praying for the government administrators who are desperately searching for answers and trying to pervade hope after the worst terrorist attack in Europe since 2004.
I’m praying for Beirut, Lebanon, which also experienced terrorist attacks facilitated by ISIS earlier this week. Over 40 people were killed in two suicide bombings, as well as more than 200 injuries.
I’m praying for the families of all 224 people killed when Russia’s Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed in late October, also speculated to be caused by an explosive device.
I’m praying for the men, women, and children in Syria who are desperately trying to flee their own homeland, permeated by fear and oppression, risking their lives for a chance at a better life but uncertain of where that will be due to many EU countries restricting the amount of refugees entering their borders or requiring complicated vetting processes that stifle any hope for resettlement.
Today, as you’re #prayingforparis, please stand up against hate, but please also stand up for equal compassion, education and awareness for all of the hatred and tragedy experienced by our fellow humans. There’s a lot of sadness in this world, and our heart needs to mourn for all of it.
Thanks for reading,