Nations without first-world privilege deserve same display of solidarity as France



In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 file photo, Lebanese army soldiers stand guard near the damaged car of the family of Haidar Mustafa a three-year-old who was wounded in Thursday’s twin suicide bombings, in Burj al-Barajneh, southern Beirut, Lebanon. Within hours of the Paris attacks last week that left 129 dead, outrage and sympathy flooded social media feeds and filled the airwaves. Commenting on the public outpouring of support and anger following the Paris attacks, Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoub accused the media and world leaders of caring less about deaths in Beirut in IS attacks than deaths in Paris at the hands of the same group. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

It’s easy to turn our backs to other people when we have the privilege most of us in America do to wake up every morning in the safety and comfort of our homes, to bathe in water significantly cleaner than many people have to drink and to choose the clothes we want to wear day-by-day when others have only what’s on their backs and as much stuff as they absolutely need and can carry.

We have all these things and yet we are turning our backs to people in need because we can’t even begin to understand their situation or the turmoil of their lives. And it’s not just certain states trying to keep out Syrian refugees (states don’t have that power, by the way), but most Americans choose to ignore much of what’s happening in the world in favor of what’s easiest for them to relate to (i.e. European).

Americans are largely ignoring the attacks in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, mainly because, if we know about it at all, we assume attacks are commonplace in the Middle East, especially Lebanon and so we simply do not care.

Even acknowledging that attacks occur frequently in the Middle East, why does that make those people any less worthy of our sympathy? It could be argued those people are more deserving of our sympathy, because they didn’t experience a terrorist attack; they are living in terror.

Yes, both situations are horrible. People lost their lives in both Paris and Beirut and many other places that are under attack, have been attacked and will be attacked, but what good are we doing the world if we can only sympathize with people we see as similar to ourselves?

We are already going down a slippery slope when it comes to helping people in our own communities. We can’t sympathize with homeless people we see on the street because of the class distinction, because our privilege doesn’t allow most of us to imagine ever being in that situation.

So, while it’s nice to get the Facebook avatar and proclaim solidarity with Paris, keep in mind people are dying elsewhere in the world for the same reasons, and there’s no avatar for that because those places aren’t enough like America to be recognized.