“…imagine all the people, living life in peace…” ~ John Lennon
When senseless tragedy strikes, people think of loved ones, a life blessed with memories, and the fleeting thoughts of dreams yet to be. As families gathered for an evening meal, friends met for a rock concert, and others stood in anticipation of a soccer match sporting their countries’ colors, how could anyone have comprehended the terror that was planned for that night?
On November 13th, coordinated attacks in Paris took the lives of 129 people with more than 350 injured.
One day earlier, in a busy shopping district during rush hour as families and friends busied themselves with errands and last minute stops, how could anyone have anticipated the terror that was planned for that afternoon?
On November 12th, coordinated attacks in southern Beirut took the lives of 43 people with more than 200 injured.
Sometimes it is easy for us to distance ourselves from the suffering that occurs every day to people just like us. We can turn away, pretend it does not affect us, until one day, it does. We may not know their names, understand their cultures, or share the same interests, but we do know they have families, friends, and dreams just like us.
This weekend, in a matter of hours, the world population was reduced by 172 people and counting. In the middle of the rubble, anguish, and pain, we struggle to understand why. How can perspectives become so polarized that the only perceived solution is death at the hand of people, who appear just like us? We are all people. We all seek happiness, a better life, a chance to change a corner of our world, and if we’re lucky, to share this life with those we love.
Have we done enough to try and understand? The terror attacks on November 12th and November 13th are the result of a larger symptomatic problem. There were a lot of little decisions, conversations, and disagreements that led to these senseless attacks.
We think these terror attacks are a world away, but we face very real pain, hurt, and anger as we read the national news of racial tensions on campus, bullying, and sexual assault. Are we any safer because we are an ocean away or do we avoid confronting these important issues because they do not directly affect us? If it happens to one, it happens to us all.
We need to make time to educate ourselves and understand perspectives from all points of view. We need to understand for ourselves the why behind the problem. What we discover may not end in agreement, but it should provide an opportunity to see unexplainable tragedy as an attempt to change the way we respond, not out of hate, but honoring those who lost their lives by loving the unlovable.
We need to remember that 172 is not a number, they are people. People the world lost on November 12th and November 13th when a few lost sight that they are people too.