I have many thoughts about the terrible man-made events in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad. There will be more terrible man-made events; there have been others. And comparing tragedies in numbers or methods does any of us any favors. Bottom line: Individuals are suffering.
The completely understandable, even rational response of fear, and the less productive, even harmful, response of rage and vengeance will not lessen the reasons or chances of more horrors to come. Both fear and rage-fueled vengeance feed the twisted motivation of those who are willing to take lives for an ideology or because they feel justified by history, whether recent or far-flung. Which breeds more rage and fear. And the cycle continues.
I’ve also had and have too many jumbled, bubbling ideas about seeing “This was Paris after 9/11” posts versus “Don’t forget Beirut was bombed as well” posts versus “If only more people had mourned dead children on beaches” posts. It can feel like too much for a sane mind to bear. Sadly, the scale of horror and grief is large enough for us all. Comparing numbers and methods when it comes to tragedy doesn’t make sense in a world that supports, even encourages, a constant flow of terror.
Comparison is the end of healthy forward movement. Instead of offering empathy to individuals, we obsess with how much a group or country had suffered and which group or country or leader is most to blame. There will always be someone feeling neglected, left out, forgotten. It’s difficult. It’s sad. It’s depressing. Each of those someone’s deserves all of our attention. But if each of us tries to pour emotion and sympathy and attention to every tragedy, we will be unable to do anything else.
Better: when someone cries out in pain to you, acknowledge, respond, and stop yourself from being defensive about what you have lost and why. The best we can do is respect each other wholly, and request that we receive the same.
And please, look away from the politicians and pundits who feed the blame-game and barely stifle a guilty sense of delight in their roller coaster of relevance. It merely distracts us from looking for The Helpers and becoming The Helpers. Because there will be more horrors and Bad Things in the world. Soon. There always have been, and there always will be. The control we have is whether we encourage more Bad Things or work to make some Good.
Edit 11/16/15: Monday afternoon, this post from the Maya Angelou Facebook page showed up. YES. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”