CAFE NOIR » Tales of an atheist, anarchist, wannabe filmmaker of sorts, and father of three lovable little beasties

_____ for _____

french-flagPray for Paris? I myself might say something more like, “Mourn for Paris,” or (though syntactically asymmetrical), “Support for Paris.” But I won’t quibble with the underlying sentiment of fellowship and sympathy for the victims and survivors of this unqualified tragedy, this despicable crime.

Last Friday evening I tuned into the Tonight Show, as I am wont to do, and the episode was prefaced with a note that it had been taped prior to the Parisian attacks. Which struck me as a kind and quietly respectful acknowledgement that sometimes, fun and games can seem so frivolous in the face of tragedy, yet we must nevertheless go on living life and, yes, enjoying it as best we can (while–hopefully–striving tangibly toward a better tomorrow).

But I was also quite struck by the realization that so many similar tragedies go almost completely unnoticed by so many of us, myself included. I would be pleasantly shocked (as in, it’s never going to happen) if the Tonight Show aired a similar acknowledgement the next time a drone strike decimated a wedding party or an entire village somewhere in the Middle East, a tragedy which has played out in various forms over and over and over again.

Do French lives matter? Of course! Absolutely. Can’t we also agree that Afghan lives matter? That Yemeni lives matter? That _____ lives matter?

“Well yes, of course; but those are accidents, not premeditated murders,” the reply goes. Really? Yes their lives do matter? Our relative inaction and relative willful ignorance indicate otherwise. Our silence speaks much louder than those hollow words.


I feel I’ve gotta include an awkward post script, as many will surely regard this as an opportunistic swipe at US and western foreign policy, dressed up as faux sympathy for the Parisian victims.

I suppose I can’t stop anyone from cynically assuming this. All I can feebly say is that I do indeed feel every bit as much sympathy for these French victims as I feel for all the countless victims of US and western foreign policy (as much sympathy, at least, as one can typically have for geographically distant, more or less anonymous-to-me strangers).

And the use of the “our” pronouns: Smug moral superiority hiding behind disingenuous self-inclusive language? No, I genuinely implicate myself in this as well. Sitting at my computer being a keyboard slacktivist, from my tiny soapbox here, rather than offering any truly difficult/painful measures of self sacrifice for victims of atrocities such as these. Recognition and vocalization of these uncomfortable truths is merely the first baby step toward building a better world.

As for the suggestion of opportunism? Perhaps. I don’t honestly know. There might be a bit of genuine bite to that accusation. But I don’t know if there’s ever an ideal context for this type of discussion. I wonder whether the only times we can possibly be shaken from our slumbers are precisely when we more proximately experience the kinds of blinding tragedy that US and western foreign policy visits on other peoples time and time again. And when the French president is euphemistically calling for the slaughter (*accidental* or otherwise) of many foreign innocents in retaliation (“we will be ruthless”), which will only serve to drum up more support and recruitment for ISIS and its ilk, this is an incredibly timely and pressing discussion indeed.

Share on Facebook|Share on Twitter|Email Post