I wanted to write something about Paris. I stared at a blank screen not able to adequately capture all of the thoughts and emotions I have been having. Unable to come up with any words that hadn't already been said, I remained silent.
Today, I cannot contain my silence. Today, I cannot hold my tongue another minute. Today, I need to write.
I am afraid. I am so afraid that I have an uneasy and lingering feeling in my stomach. It won't go away. So I write.
You might think, initially, that I fear we will be next. You might think I am afraid that we too shall be victim of a horrendous act of terrorism. Yes, those fears have entered my mind and remained there; however, that is not my greatest fear and that is not the current reality I am being faced with.
In the minutes, hours and days following the attack on Paris I have been witness to many things. I have seen some truly beautiful posts expressing condolences and strength. I have also been made aware how oblivious I am about other events that have been going on around the world. Other lives that have been lost due to senseless acts of violence. I have also been witness to racism and hatred, to crimes committed against innocents whose only sin was 'looking like a terrorist'.
The events that took place in Paris evoke a sense of fear in us unlike others because who doesn't love Paris? What American or Canadian can't imagine a trip to Paris? Or at least, who can't imagine themselves being at a concert hall rocking out to their favorite band? Or in a coffee house having a late night cappuccino? Or in a bar, having a few pints? That's much easier to relate to than imaging what it would be like getting on a boat in the middle of the ocean bound for anywhere but where you are. Most of us can't relate to the refugees fleeing from a war-torn country because that is so far outside of our current reality.
I am so sad. I am so sad and so disgusted by what is happening. My news feed is filled with messages of hate, of condemning entire religions and cultures and pictures of children, beautiful children, with nowhere to go that is safe. In my own province a Muslim woman was attacked while picking her children up from school for no other reason than the hijab she wore. She was called a terrorist and told to 'go home'. A mosque was set a blaze in Peterborough, incidents of anti-Muslim graffiti too numerous to count and a picture of a young man taking a selfie with his ipad was photo-shopped into a picture of a suicide vest wearing Quran-yielding terrorist and spread like wildfire on the internet.
I am at a loss that the response to fear has been one filled with hatred and violence. I am ashamed that, as fellow human beings, people seem to be unable to find the ability to distinguish because terrorists and all Muslim people. I fail to understand how all Muslim people (and for the record, there are 1.57 billion Muslim people on this planet - the population of Canada a mere 35 million) can be grouped as terrorists and condemned to the same fate one might wish upon a suicide bomber.
Neither my heart nor my head can comprehend how people can look at a Syrian refugee, a child, and argue that we have no room for 'those terrorists' here. Those refugees who are only fleeing the exact same thing that has us all so wrought with fear and hatred.
I do not know what the answer is but I know it isn't hate. I do not know how to stop terrorism but I know it is not with violence. That is what the real terrorists want. They want us to ostracize an entire group of people and to leave them in fear and fleeing our hate and violence so that the only place they have to go is the one place they have run from.
When you spread hate, you are not helping the problem. When you group entire factions of people together, you are not helping the problem. When you commit acts of violence against innocent people, you are not helping the problem. When you deny people, human beings, the right to a life free from fear and violence simply because of where they come from, you are NOT helping the problem.
Let us be rational. Let us not make decisions out of fear. Let us not be violent because that only sinks us to the same level of the very people we are afraid of.
I challenge you to think differently. I challenge you to click on the images of those Syrian children on your Facebook feed and look at each one and read their story and tell me that they don't deserve a chance at life.
I encourage you to comment on racists posts and challenge it. I encourage you to attempt to stop the spreading of hate and the promoting of violence.
I ask you not to group all people together and I beg you not to promote hate and violence. Those things will not serve as an end to terrorism. I do not know what will but I know that there is already so much hate in the world.
Please, if it's all we can do, let us be the ones who fill the world with a little more love and kindness.