No Monopoly on Pain


Pic Syria

Over the last few days, much has been said about the fact that the Paris attacks have received an unprecedented amount of attention. There’s been an outpouring of grief and support for Paris coming from all over the world. Some people have pointed out that there are other atrocities that have gone on, or are still going on, which deserve and don’t get the same level of attention.

It is undeniable that the Paris attacks have overshadowed everything else.
Is it right? No. Is it fair? Of course not.

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for Paris but not for Beirut, it was the first time that feature was used for something that was not a natural disaster. Why Paris and not us, wailed Lebanon? Can you blame them? Definitely not, I would have reacted in the same way had I been in their position. Mark Zuckerberg explained that moving forward, FB was now going to activate Safety Check for more disasters. The implied statement is that Facebook just happened, coincidentally, to change their policy about safety checks at the time of the Paris attacks. Hmmm…

Facebook users were also given the option to use a filter enabling their profile picture to be covered with a French flag to show support for France – more grumbles from victims of terrorism in other countries.
Many of the world’s landmarks were lit up in the colours of the French flag in the wake of the Friday events in Paris, people in many countries organised gatherings to show respect and support for Paris…what about us? cried Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and others.


Yes, indeed, what about you?

I can’t justify the Paris attacks overshadowing everything else so I’m not going to try. All I can offer is an explanation of sorts. I’m not going to speak on behalf of the rest of the world, I can only speak for myself and the thing is this: I keep myself informed of what goes on in this world, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, civil wars, the Middle East…whatever happens, I know about it because I read about it, it’s actually very difficult at times for an empath to keep up with the worldwide news because there is so much pain and bloodshed. There is a temptation to shut it all out and ignore it because it’s just too painful.

The situation in Syria right now is tragic, hell, make that the situation in the entire Middle East! There is so much wrong going on in the world, you don’t have to stop at the victims of terrorism or war, what about human trafficking, the number of women and children forced to work for a pittance or used as sex slaves? Modern day slavery is what it is, and it’s going on right now – when I think about it, it makes my stomach turn, yet is it something you hear about on a regular basis? No. The world is not lighting its landmarks in support of the women and children who are sex slaves.

I’m sure you can tell where I’m going with all this…so many atrocities, death and misery in so many parts of the world…the Paris attacks are just a drop in the ocean, right?

Pray for world hands

And yet, Paris is at the heart of Europe, Europe isn’t divided by war, France is a quiet civilised country, there’s no civil war or political unrest there. When people are murdered in the capital city of such a country, it’s utterly shocking and traumatising. The people who were murdered were going about their business on Friday night, they were out, they were having fun, just living life without a care in the world when mayhem descended on them out of nowhere – a bolt of lighting in an otherwise beautiful blue sky. Some would say it’s only justice, payback and retribution for being lucky enough to live in a quiet country in Europe, far from unrest and war.

At a time like this, the French are getting a small taste of what it’s like for people in the Middle East, right? Right, only you shouldn’t have to pay for being lucky, you shouldn’t have to suffer because you were born or happen to live in a civilised country.

France Liberty

I am not living in France at the moment, but I was absolutely devastated by the attacks in my country because I saw them, like most French people, as an attack on Liberty, on freedom, on our values. There are so many countries torn by civil wars and political unrest, so many places where terrible things happen on a daily basis, why oh why should the few parts of the world where people are lucky enough to have a good life be pulled down and made to experience horror?

It’s not as if the French haven’t fought long and hard for Freedom, there’s been a lot of blood shed over the centuries for what we now have, it wasn’t handed to us on a plate. If you listen to our national anthem, you will know exactly how hard it was for France to become what it has, and you will know why we cherish and will fight to the death for Freedom – Marianne is not the symbol of France for nothing: she is the Republic, she is Liberty – and when you hit France, you attack Liberty…and she weeps and bleeds…this, of course, being the very reason why we were attacked by terrorists who won’t rest until they’ve extinguished all the light and life in this world.

Liberty crying
The world’s support for France was for those very same reasons, I think. It’s France, it’s Europe, it’s a symbol of culture, history, of a way of life, of freedom — to have it attacked in such a senseless, hateful way threatened the foundations of democracy, of civilisation. The “free world” as I shall call it, also felt for Paris because it could have been “them”, is it selfish? Yes, but who isn’t a little selfish? It is just human nature, after all.

I empathise with all the victims of terrorism, wherever they are, wherever they’re from. I am outraged and appalled by war, racism and slavery, I wish the world was a better place and I wish it was a fairer place. If you are suffering somewhere on this planet right now and think it’s unjust that France is receiving waves of love from the world, I’m sorry, I truly am. But I can only reiterate: what happened in Paris was as shocking, in a different way and for different reasons, as what is happening in Syria, Lebanon or Palestine right now — there isn’t, and there should be no monopoly on pain, we all bleed the same.

27 thoughts on “No Monopoly on Pain

      1. Thank you for saying it. I feel so sorry you had to justify yourself in the midst of this troubling time. What is wrong with us? Why can’t we simply show compassion for the families of those affected by the tragedy? It is inhumane how some people have chosen to respond. There was a better solution. Perhaps calmly asking for a variation of filters in the spirit of respect, unity and brotherhood. If there is a time when we need to cut out the nonsense, it is now.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. We can expand the list to Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and many other countries. The world needs to stand together, regardless of nationality, religion, or any other man made divisiveness and eliminate evil from this world. I know that it sounds pie in the sky, but haven’t we suffered as a species long enough?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree Rob, I wrote this very quickly because I didn’t have time to do a proper detailed post about it, so I just included the countries that are “currently” in the news, but you are right, I did not in any way shape or form give a comprehensive list of suffering countries.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I find it horrible and deeply disturbing when I read about the horrors that humans impose on humans. So sad! Thank you for your post today, Nathalie. It’s thought provoking and timely.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I empathize too with anyone on the receiving end of terrorism. I think it’s just natural to feel for your own because if it happened in my hometown, I’d be more outraged just because it hits home, not because I don’t care about the world. I do. We are all victims of psychopathic “rulers” who are playing the world like their chess game. Sadly, we lash out at each other because we can’t get at these world rulers that think it’s fun to poke each other. So, now we have terrorists lashing out at innocent people. Nothing is fair for any of us. But yes, France has a long history of fighting for its democracy, so should that be envied or the innocent lashed out against because these terrorists are trying to send a message and they’re just insane enough to do it? No! These are difficult times we live in truly. I see the cause but the answer is not so simple to get at. I blame our so called world leaders but now that they’ve unleashed maniacs on us, do we not have a choice to defend ourselves? I don’t know what the answer is. I am against war and the system but man, I’m left pondering and hurt for innocence. Thanks for this post. It speaks volumes of truth.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Dara, I know *exactly* what you’re saying. One does feel so powerless sometimes, politics is so full of corruption, lack of integrity and so on, it makes you wonder how anything can ever get better

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you do agree, I felt like I had to write this because as much as I’ve appreciated the support coming from around the world, I’m also keenly aware of how unfair things are, of how people pick and choose whom and what causes they want to support. The sad truth is that if it’s not “fashionable”, then forget it, most people are just not interested – it’s always that way, it always annoys me and I’m not going to conveniently forget that fact just because *I* and *my country* happen to be the “fashionable” cause this time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully written and articulated. I agree with your words and share your sentiments. Maybe things will get better; maybe they won’t. The least we can do is be understanding. If there’s any good to come of this horror, hopefully, it be more open hearts and eyes x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deep felt and accurate… I do empathise with all the victims of terrorism, worldwide… what has happened in Paris is awful and touches me in a personal level as I went to a French High School and still nowadays have friends who are bilingual…
    A quote which I feel makes much sense these days, which is related to a main value I guess… i.e Tolerance… I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it…
    If only we accept our differences, things would surely work better and violence itself wouldn’t be a mean to achieve certain things, whatsoever…
    🇫🇷 Nous sommes Paris 🇫🇷
    Sending love and best wishes, dear Natalie. Aquileana

    Liked by 1 person

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