Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on Peace for Paris and Peace on Earth

Annamaria on Monday


 The attack on Paris last Friday tore through my emotions.  The photos of the dead and wounded brought tears to my eyes.  I had a lot of company in my grief.

But why did I care so much?

Is it the slaughter of innocents that moved me?  Or that it happened in Paris?  It took some soul searching to figure that out.



Paris!  Beloved Paris!  The name has been a symbol for me my whole life.  Its physical beauty.   Its sophistication.  Its society—its artists, the writers, the history that has happened there.

Paris was the first city I went to on my first trip abroad.  Here is what it (and David and I) looked like in July of 1973:





This is David in Rome, not Paris, but I wanted to show
off how gorgeous he was.  He was the better photographer too.


If you have been young and in love and in Paris for the first time in your life, its myth, its romance become indelibly burned into your psyche.

I have since found other places to love even more: Rome—more beautiful to my eyes.  Siracusa—magical beyond belief.  The African wilderness—thrilling on cellular level.  New York—my first city-love, exciting even after fifty years of living here.

But to me and to all those loving, wonderful people who have in the past few days changed their Facebook photos to the tricolore, Paris is still PARIS!


Then, my mind dragged me back to the truth about the slaughter of the innocents: That it is happening constantly all over this beautiful planet. 

You can look here to find out how bad it is—if you can stand it:  Wikipedia list of Terrorist Attacksin 2015.

Let me summarize the article for you:  Looking at just this year, there have been terrorist events almost every single day in some part of the world.  Wikipedia uses boldface to highlight any that kill more than 20 people.  The attack last Friday on Paris was the 68th killing to earn a boldface entry on this year’s list.  The famous attack on Charlie Hebdo is not in boldface—twelve died that day in Paris.   On that same January 7th, Boko Haram was finishing up a five-day mass massacre of 2000+ innocents in Baga, Borno State in Nigeria.   No one, not one person changed his Facebook picture to the green and white of the Nigerian flag.  Those Boko Haram monsters have killed 3198 innocents in forty-three separate attacks so far this year, to say nothing of how many they have maimed or raped or kidnapped.  They have twenty boldfaced notches on their Wikipedia belt.



On April 1st, at Garissa University in gorgeous Kenya, six to ten Al-Shabaab gunmen separated the Christians from the Muslims before executing one hundred and forty-seven Christians, and wounding another seventy-nine.  Did you see the Kenyan flag on Facebook that day?  Neither did I.



Five weeks ago, Islamic State suicide bombers attacked a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey, killing 102 and wounding 508.



And in Beirut, less than forty-eight hours before the Paris attack last Friday, an Islamic State bomber blew up a bicycle loaded with explosives.  When people nearby ran to the aid of the wounded, another suicide attacker detonated himself to finish them all off.  The toll: forty-three dead, 240 wounded.  Here is what the Lebanese flag looks like, in case you haven’t seen it lately.



What these ignored slaughtered innocents have in common is that they did not live in Paris.   Nor did they look like Europeans.  The little girls did not look like Alice in Wonderland.  The young men did not resemble Robert Redford.   The Christians killed in Kenya looked nothing like the sainted martyrs who died in the Coliseum.

To borrow a phrase from another source of outrage:  BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I would like to enlist your help is fighting this subtle form of racism.  Pay attention.   Be aware when innocents are slaughtered ANYWHERE in the world.  And then, talk about it.  Post their flag on Facebook.  Tweet the statistics.  Express your anger and upset.   Let’s help one another learn to feel outrage at the slaughter of innocents, even if they don’t live in a romantic dream city or look anything like us.

23 comments:

  1. Amen to that, sister. Barbara and I were just talking about how Beirut's received barely a mention. God help us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jeff. Since I wrote this, there has been more and more talk about the other attacks. And Kenyan and Lebanese flags are showing up at memorial events in NYC. We are not the only ones who see the need for unity of spirit. These times need all the open hearts we can find.

      Delete
  2. Barely received a mention here either. We have had many events cancelled - even the Christmas light parade in the local town. The authorities don't want people gathering.

    The only politician speaking out as you have Annamaria, is Jeremy Corbyn... let's hope they listen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "What unfortunately got hardly any publicity, was the bombing in Beirut last week or the killing in Turkey. I think our media needs be able to report things that happen outside of Europe as well as inside. A life is a life."
    Is the quote of what Jeremy actually said.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Caro, They cancelled the Christmas light parade? What a mistake. Light is what the world needs--especially after an attack on the "City of Light." That sort of fear response happened in small places in the US, too, after 9/11. Towns all over the US began to demand more safety measures. The US Government instituted a new program to subsidize antiterrorist efforts. Most of the money was earmarked for big cities. I remember my daughter's response to--I think it was Boise, Idaho demanding their "fair share" and less for places like New York. She was raising a two year old and an infant a mile and a half away from Ground Zero. "We are the target," she said. "What are terrorists going to do to Boise? Blow up the grain elevator?"
    What we did here was what the Parisians are beginning to talk about. We went out to dinner. We refused to be terrorized. That was our act of resistance. And it worked. Our city is still at risk, but we carry on. And New York is thriving--as you saw when you were here. Paris will be Paris again.
    And re Jeremy--I still wish I could ask him to marry me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are right on, Annamaria Alfieri! I use this phrase with a smile, thinking of your youthful photographs. Murder IS everywhere. Sadly, the daily killings in my own city are accepted by all.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, Sujata. I am smiling along with you. Yes, David and I were hippies when we met. My little daughter and I even spent part of every week in a farm commune! At this end of my adult life, "Right on" has changed to "Write on."

    ReplyDelete
  7. You know how I think about this, Annamaria. Thank you for putting those thoughts into such eloquent words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stan, I thought of our talks about such things when I was writing this post. That we agree so often is a balm to my spirit.

      Delete
  8. Many of us keep thinking that as the planet grows older the humans become more humane... with more respect for the sanctity of life... but this last week proves ... not so... .Thelma Straw in Manhattan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Thelma. My dad always said that if you trusted all of the people, you would be right 99% of the time. But what horrible damage that 1% has proven they will do. But I cling to hope.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Thank you, Diana. Learning the data was daunting. But we have to know if. If it is ignored, nothing will ever change. Perhaps nothing WILL ever change. But if we fail to try, the worst will be inevitable.

      Delete
  10. Amen, AmA, amen. I remember going to see the writer Harlan Ellison when I was in college, and I can still remember on of the things he said during one of his talks (it was a weekend-long gathering of several writers), "We care more, shed more tears, for the death of a pet than we do for the murder of a person in another city." An unfortunate truth that, all too often, it's only those things close at hand, that we experience ourselves, that really strike deep into our hearts. For good or bad, it seems to be the nature of human psychology (speaking in VERY general terms).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, EvKa. BUT. I would imagine that many of the people outraged over Paris have never been there. The overwhelming majority of them certainly did not know anyone directly affected. Yet the outpouring of emotion has been huge. Because Paris is not just a city in France. It is an idea, an ideal, carries a myth of wondrousness. If we can learn to see the panoply of humanity as wondrous, we can quell some of the indifference. A photo of a dead child lying on the sand moved people to open their hearts. Those Isis fiends shut them again, because one of their savages evidently hid among the refugees.

      All of this means that movement is possible. Toward sympathy. As well as toward apathy. All I am asking is that we remember the suffering and remind others to so the same. It's worth a shot.

      Delete
  11. Everett is right of course. Our empathy is like ripples-much less pronounced the further you go from where the stone hits the water. We've got to fight that reaction as much as we can.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Replies
    1. Thank you, Michael. We need to keep the ripples big. Let's keep dropping boulders of empathy.

      Delete
  13. Wonderful piece - and perfectly suited for both this time and this blog, where we often shine light on spaces not as commonly seen in the spotlight. It's so critically important, now more than ever, for us to remember that the world is larger than our experience, and that every life, in every corner of it, matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Susan. After I posted, I thought the title should have been Terrorism is Everywhere. In a sense, though, so is love. So is caring. So is hope. I hope.

      Delete
  14. Annamaria, I just got back from Paris - left the day before the attacks. You say things beautifully here. Tomorrow I'll just try to post what I saw before I left...to show what now seems an innocent time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cara, I was so happy to see on Facebook that you were safe at home. How it must have hurt you, though, not to be there to comfort your friends.
      YES. Hark back to innocence. I can't wait to see your post tomorrow. As I said to Caro, above, Paris will be Paris again. NYC is proof that a city can come back, and be stronger. Those thugs will not kill the spirit of Paris. Mourning will give way. And then the Parisians will rebound. Allons Enfants. Take back the streets, the theaters, the cafes.

      Delete
  15. I agree. I am so glad you brought up Beirut. There are also the more than 220 people blown up on the Russian plane. There are the 30 who died from bombs on a Doctors without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, all Afghans staff and patients.
    And even though it's not mentioned all over, the group killed in Paris was multinational, with a young Algerian musicians, young Tunisian sisters, a Moroccan man and many more. Just read that Muslim families are torn up over the losses of their family members.
    And as someone pointed out, the majority of people killed by ISIS are Muslims. That makes sense.
    But there are the millions affected by war, innocent civilians killed by all the bombs in Syria and Iraq, the thousands of migrants who die fleeing over the Mediterranean, those who arrive and have nowhere to go and are not wanted.
    Where do the Syrians go when they're desperately trying to have their families survive?
    And now there are Islamophobic attacks in France against Muslim shopkeepers and other immigrants.
    This is the loss of a lot of innocent life all over. I dread to think about what will happen now.
    The war is worsening.

    ReplyDelete