War of the words: Should we #PrayForParis?

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

The virtues of hope in a tragic world

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

The tragedy that occurred on November 13 in Paris cost the life of 136 people, and another 352 were injured. No matter your views on the incident, we can agree that this many people being harmed is a terrible thing that should not be happening in today’s society.

In response to this incident, a global hashtag and movement was created: #PrayForParis. Some people used it to express their sorrow, frustration, or simply solidarity with Paris. Some used it as a platform to distribute help to those affected or to express their views in response to the situation. During the aftermath of the attacks, citizens across the world connected to reach out and be united with those affected.

Many people believe that #PrayForParis should be discouraged and that the hashtag undermines the other tragedies that occurred around the world that day—including (among other things) another terrorist attack in Lebanon.

Focusing attentions on one tragedy does not imply detachment or discouragement from another tragedy. Terrible things happen all over the world, every day—resulting in many people being attacked, losing everything they own, and dying. The Paris attacks were highlighted by western media due not only to Paris’s proximity, but its sheer unexpectedness.

Paris, the city of love, is internationally known as a tourist destination. Stable governments, a large economy, and its popularity worldwide usually make it a safe place to travel. A coordinated terrorist attack was not only devastating immediately and physically, but would have global ramifications in its fallout.

In contrast, the Lebanon attacks were not widely publicized on western social or physical media due to its lesser relations. While it is no way any less of a tragedy (and seriously, do we really need to make it a contest?), Lebanon is generally regarded as less stable than Paris. In addition, the attacks were covered on many news outlets—primarily Middle Eastern ones, but many international and western ones as well. I can almost guarantee #PrayForLebanon was sent out by people who live closer to the area, many of whom probably also sent messages of #PrayForParis. Choosing to focus energies in any positive way whatsoever should be regarded as a good thing. Discouraging or belittling a positive movement based on hope and peace does not help anything. We cannot focus our emotions (especially ones of sorrow) into everything, and that’s okay.

Ultimately, we all decide on a daily basis what horrible thing in the world we pay the most attention to. It is impossible to focus on the many tragedies that happen worldwide. Perhaps the best thing to do, no matter where in the world they take place, is reflect on why these tragedies happen, what their causes and purposes are, and what can be done to prevent more people from dying. #PrayForParis, #PrayForLebanon, #PrayForTheWorld—they all have a common goal. Praying (wishing, hoping, seeking) for peace.