People have been killing people over ideas for almost as long as people have been killing each other over food and sex. From medieval witch burnings and massacres of Protestants to the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, the Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11, Syria, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and now this. Humanity is disgusting.
The death toll in the Paris attacks is being reported at at least 140, including three shooters. Not sure if that is final. Not sure if there are additional shooters on the loose, although I’m pretty sure the BBC live updates I have been following would be coming at a greater frequency if there were.
140 people, of all ages, races and walks of life, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and died in someone else’s fight.
The attack may have been a revenge gesture for Western inaction in Syria. When 100 (or even 10) people are fired upon in Paris, the entire international community snaps to attention, and we know the names, ages and heartbreakingly ordinary life stories of the victims. But when 400 people are killed in Syria, by suicide attacks or by barrel bombs, the world shakes its head, the names go unmentioned and the attack itself is buried in a 250-word dispatch at the back of the World section. A friend from Burundi commented, when he first heard about the attacks, “My condolences. This is a daily occurrence in Buja.” Is that an excuse for an atrocity like Charlie Hebdo or today’s attacks? Not by any means. But does it explain it? Probably in part. And should we concern ourselves with why the attack happened? Absolutely we should.
What I find even more disturbing, if that’s possible, is that the attackers have been described as in their 20s. So were the Charlie Hebdo shooters. How do kids that young get filled with hate? What can we as a global society do to stop that from happening to young people? I strongly believe there’s no such thing as an evil, hateful baby. That ideology is taught, learned or developed through some twisted interpretation of personal experience. How can we stop that at the root?
And when will people start to realize that all 7 billion of us are on the same slowly sinking ship, and we can only fix it if we pull together and give everyone the respect accorded humans, the respect accorded equals? We are all on the same ship, and there is no spaceship or rapture ray that will take us to another planet. There is no god, no superhero, not even any one human hero that will magically fix the thousands of tiny, spurting holes. There won’t be any lifeboat to come by and offload us. We are the closest thing we have to a lifeboat, and we can only rescue ourselves together.