There’s a post going around right now that was put out as a response to the Pray for Paris movement. It states, quite boldly, that we Americans purposefully only pray for those in Paris, and we choose to ignore the other cities affected by terrorism around the world – specifically Beirut and Baghdad.
I want to formally declare my counterargument to this rash generalization and cruel rhetoric.
First and foremost, Paris is a city – just like Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, Dubai. I know Paris. I know Paris firsthand, as well as through movies and songs and pop culture. I equate Paris’ energy and vibes to that of New York. Its art, history, and culture are ones I have a firm grasp of. And in the most basic of ways, I know where it is on a map.
Let me be the first to disclose that I am completely ignorant about Beirut and Baghdad. I cannot locate them on a map, I cannot tell you anything about them. I cannot tell you what they are famous for, nor could I give you a summary statement about their culture and history.
I also do not know anyone who’s been to Beirut or Baghdad for any other reason than war. My view of these places is completely skewed, and it’s utterly my fault that I haven’t sought out more information. If I’m being completely honest, though, I should divulge that I actually avoid the news the same way I leave the room when American Horror Story comes on. I choose Plato’s cave of ignorance over looming nightmares. And I fully appreciate that I have the luxury to live a life where I get to make this decision.
But when the terrorist attacks hit Paris, I had no cave to hide in. I was too consumed thinking about people I needed to check on. I, unfortunately, do not know anyone in Beirut or Baghdad. I don’t have anyone there I can call to check on. Per my naïveté, the Middle East is a place that exists only in the news, which I tactfully avoid.
For those of you who do know more about these places – the good and the suffering – please come forward and tell me about them. Please do not chastise us for our ignorance. Instead, grab hold of this opportunity to teach. Use Paris as an example to conceptualize that Parisians are not the only people suffering such grievances. The Paris bombings feel so akin to 9/11. 9/11 is a terrorist attack that we Americans know and understand well, and as a result, it’s easy to hold tangible empathy for Paris.
Therefore, this is the time to use these brushes that the Pray for Paris movement brought forth. Illustrate and humanize the image of what’s going on in Beirut and Baghdad. Empower those of us naïvely leaving Beruit and Baghdad out of our prayers.
I offer Lebanon my sincerest apologies for not filtering my Facebook profile photo with their colors. Baghdad, I am so sorry I did not post about you on my Instagram. You both are always in my prayers. I think about the suffering your people have endured, I try to understand it, and I pray for it to stop. I pray that our nation is helping more than we are hurting when we get involved with your affairs. I pray that you hold on strong to your own religious beliefs, even when we demonize them with our small amount of understanding and our large amounts of misconception.
The Pray for Paris movement was not put forth to leave others out. It was an organic and sincere response meant to illustrate support and spread love for those suffering loss.
I ask those of you who publically condemn us for our lack of awareness to please stop for a moment and consider spreading love instead. Please, do not mitigate the sincere empathy we have for our Parisian friends with your disapproval. Instead, expand upon and it and please, help me pray for the world.