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Des Leçons de France (Lessons from France)

H ere is my take on this whole "issue". There has been one perhaps unintended side effect of this social Media ping pong game. As more and more voices join the uproarious cacophony of this intellectual, moral, and ideological discourse on the bias of Western media, their institutionalised and internalised prejudice and subsequent lack of balance in reporting on international events and crises, the very visibility that many of the atrocities taking place in so many other countries lacked, the trap of apathy into which many have fallen, have been highlighted. There are people willing to shine a light unto the darkness that is media bias, and to remind us that our sensitisation towards all of our global family is our own responsibility, and as long as they are willing to do so, those who would see us blinded cannot win. 

I am thankful that I have friends in and from Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, the United States, France, Laos, and all over the world. My love and concern for them, is what keeps me connected to the struggles and pain that they, and others in their country may be facing. As much as we celebrate the various social and legal victories taking place around the world regarding rights for women, sexual minorities, children and so much more, we grieve with those who are facing loss and crisis in Tibet, the Dominican Republic, in Syria, and all over the world.  We condole with those whose daily experience includes unimaginable and horrendous acts of terror, whether from external forces, or from their own government.

This is not about taking sides and further deepening and widening the chasm that separates so many of us; it is an opportunity to listen to different voices, and to remind ourselves that we are all just one hair's breadth, one bad policy away from finding ourselves in similar crises. So, as we sit in church today, or at home reading the newspaper, we have the opportunity to grasp some things that are within our reach: knowledge, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and healing for ourselves, and the rest of our global family.  We have the power to inform ourselves on what is taking place around us, even if the media would rather filter — pun intended — the truth.  However, even as we might blame the media for their often blatant censorship of what should be free and fair reporting, we cannot forget that many in the media have put their lives on the line in order to elucidate the occurrences that others would have us ignore or forget.  Myanmar/Burma, is an excellent example.  We must also not forget that many corrupt regimes deliberately use all the power at their disposal to keep the evils that they visit upon their people from the rest of the world.  There is a dark world of intimidation and torment that journalists often brave in order to do their jobs; their courage, much like soldiers in war-torn territories, must not be diminished.

No country is without its checkered history of Violence, prejudice, bad decisions, and eventually, regret.  France, in bombing an IS training camp in Syria, was trying to root out some of the hatred and violence that has been infecting our world.  We all know that violence begets violence, even if the intention for that initial violence was good, or noble.  All of Islam most certainly should not be Held Responsible for a few radical elements within their ranks; just as all of France should not be held responsible for what long-dead leaders did in distant lands, even if they may have benefitted from those actions and policies; just as all of Britain should not be held responsible for the enslavement of generations of Africans, even though they benefitted from it; and just as all of Germany should not be held responsible for the Holocaust that saw Jews, gay men and other minorities from Germany, Poland and other countries torn from their families, tortured and often killed in concentration camps.  We need to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who deserve it.

In a world where the perpetuity of apathy has become the norm, the ideal scenario for those with great wealth and power, because it keeps us docile and willing to accept whatever we are given or told, and where labels and boxes, which are best kept for FEDEX packages, are too often ascribed to us, we need things like Facebook filters and vigorous debates to keep us connected as a human family; to give us a way to show others who are celebrating or hurting in faraway places, that we join with them in their happiness or pain.  How do you think the French feel, seeing so many people joining with them in their moment of tragedy?  Do you think they feel isolated, or connected; oppressed, or uplifted?  For those like myself who have chosen to apply a Facebook filter to show our strong dislike for terror and violence, take heart.  The choice is ours to do so.  For those who would rather show support for another group of people facing an ongoing crisis, the choice is yours to do so.  Yes, it is possible for us all to support and encourage each other in a myriad ways, simultaneously!  If there is an unavailability of Facebook filters to show support for other causes about which you are concerned or feel deeply, then let us encourage Facebook or any other Social Media platform to offer them to us; and if they are unwilling, there are individuals, groups and organisations out there who are willing to provide working alternatives.

The point is that there is no excuse for any of us to not give the time and attention we desire to whatever issue exists, and to ignite that same fire in others.  Yes, France is getting some love and attention from the wider global community at this time; and they deserve it.  They are facing a horrific reality that many of us have never faced and, with some luck we hope, can continue to avoid.  In another few news cycles, there will be another tragedy, and another.  There will also be another victory, and another.  Let us not forget to celebrate the victories, though, because there are already so few as it is.  Let us live and let live; love and let love.  Let us engage in respectful, fair discourse, and offer ourselves as responsible, and informed global citizens.  Those are the rules of engagement on a battlefield where critical thinking may very well be the best weapon in our arsenal.

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Des Leçons de France (Lessons from France)


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