This weekend, the world turned its attention to Paris after multiple terrorist attacks killed about 130 people in separate venues. ISIS has been identified as the group responsible. This makes the third attack in 2 weeks that ISIS claims responsibility for perpetrating. It began with the downing of a Russian passenger plane. Then, in practically back to back events, locations in Beirut and Paris were attacked.
My sadness is not as much with the loss of lives in Paris. I am saddened by that. What saddens me more than anything is that Beirut has disappeared from public consciousness. It gets a passing mention, as if we were well passed the pain and power of that attack. The Beirut attack, a double bombing by ISIS, was just one day before the Paris attacks. 43 people were killed in that attack. But the world did not leap to the defense of Palestine or the people of Beirut. There were no showers of support for the people of that nation.
I am saddened that those who were attacked in Beirut do not seem as important as the people in Paris. I am saddened that those who lost their lives are practically forgotten in the world arena. I am saddened that we may be so biased to an "us/them" mentality that has decided that we are more "us" with Europeans than with Middle Eastern people.
I am sad that we are a broken world.
I am also worried that ignorance, fear, and anger will cloud the forward progress of finding justice. Justice is not "let's pay them back for the harm they have done." Justice is not "bomb them into submission." Justice is treating all people according to the same level of humane treatment. Justice is insuring that we are making an effort to narrow the focus of actions only against those who have perpetrated the crime.
I am worried that people of any Middle Eastern ethnicity will be victimized by efforts to find the villain. I am worried that fear of the growing threat will be countered with overreaching, overreacting efforts to eliminate that threat. I heard one analyst say, "We have to decide what level of collateral is acceptable." If you know the language and read appropriately between the lines, that is the question of how many innocent people and the resources they need for life can be destroyed in order to get the villain. That is not justice.
I am worried that those in Syria will be turned back to the chaos and violence they are escaping by asking for refuge in Europe. The villains are using the masses to hide their infiltration into target areas. But not all of the people fleeing Syria are terrorists. In fact, the terrorists can't afford to insert that many into the refugees. Thousands of those who are fleeing Syria are just trying protect their families, their own lives. But in an effort to bolster an appearance of safety, I am worried that good people will either be turned back into a place of violence, a battleground in fact, or they will have to turn to underground, illegal means of finding security. In other words, the victims of violence will become an epidemic of trafficked humanity.
My interpretation of the events will be unsettling. It is only because what I am about to say will seem doomsaying. But there is a reality that people of this age will have to come to grips with: the world is changed.
There will be organized terrorist attacks closer to home. We will see more attacks across Europe. We will see more violence, increasing violence. This is terrorist war.
I wish this were not the case, but it is most likely what we will see.
But it doesn't have to undo us. It doesn't have to be a reason to lose hope. It doesn't have to be a reason to become divided or de-humanizing. The response to terror is "be not afraid." Terrorism tries to create panic and drive people out of the normal routines of life. It is a tactic to disrupt the lives they live. The way to disarm this tactic is increasing the unity of a people. The way to take away the terror is to find hope in the connections we share with our neighbor, our community, our nation, and the nations of the world.