Recently, the news and social media have become saturated with reports and opinions on the horrible attacks in France that were perpetrated by ISIS. People worldwide are voicing their opinions regarding the tragedy in order to express their sympathy and support for the victims. Solidarity among humanity for the common goal of world peace is certainly necessary during such tragic times and helps us advance towards achieving that goal.
On Friday, November 13th, a number of premeditated terror attacks plagued Paris, the capital of France. The attacks consisted of suicide bombings and mass shootings, resulting in the death of 130 innocent people. Subsequently, Facebook was flooded with profile pictures overlaid with the flag of France in order to show support.
We did not see a similar level of acknowledgement of past tragic events such as the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 43 and left 239 others wounded or the shooting in Mali that occurred after the Paris attacks, which resulted in the death of 27. Mali declared a national state of emergency, yet the same level of media coverage or social media posts about such attacks don’t exist.
In fact, Syria has been dealing with violent suicide bombings and inhumane shootings since April 2013, when ISIS first formed in succession to al-Qaeda. Events similar to those in Paris are occurring almost daily in Syria. Does the lack of support suggest that people believe that the lives lost in Paris hold more value than those lost in Lebanon, Syria and West Africa?
Just like how the Kony 2012 campaign created widespread awareness of how corrupt a rebel militia group forced recruitment of child soldiers, the Paris attacks are only bringing attention to problems that have always been present. The main reason why the Paris attacks induced so many public displays of sympathy is because of media bias. A life lost is a life lost, just because the media covers a specific event, doesn’t mean that it is the first time that is it happening in the world. Many of these acts of violence are occurring daily around the world.
It is a good thing that people are becoming aware of how unprincipled humanity can be. However, when trying to advance towards world peace, being selective in what tragedies we support only drives us away from unity. Furthermore, it’s not even just an issue of prioritizing some lives over others. Being well-educated on the sorts of tragedies happening worldwide is a necessary condition for being a good advocate of change.
What happened in Paris is awful, there’s no doubting that. But it’s also a time to reflect on why we prioritize some tragedies the way we do and let others go completely ignored. We must, as a society, push to better understand world events.