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Did the world mourn with Kenya?

Dec 03,2015

When people across the globe were left aghast by the terrifying news of the deadly attacks in Paris, they began to express their sorrow for Parisians and the deceased in their own manner. They changed their profile pictures on Facebook to the French flag. It was like a storm that swept across the online world. But then, all of a sudden, someone posted a message online saying, “147 people in Kenya were killed by Al Shabab. Did the world mourn and drape itself in the Kenyan flag?” The implications of the post were more than far-reaching. What makes Paris so special for them?

Obviously, there was some sarcasm in it. The media and everybody around the globe seemed to agree that they sort of jumped on the bandwagon in mourning and praying for Paris, and they all felt guilty about it for some reason.

Not that we are wrong that we only wept over what happened in Paris. But it is true that we have turned a blind eye to even worse incidents that have been taking place in other regions.

The Twitter message seemed to blame all of us for crying only over Paris. But there is a pitfall: those other regions feel way too far for most of us. Yes, there are thousands of people in danger of falling victim to a host of dangerous incidents in less safe regions around the globe.

It would not be far-fetched to say that they expressed sadness for their own sake. As they thought Paris was one of the safest cities, they were shocked that such a safe city as Paris was attacked, and they felt as if their own cities had been attacked. In light of this, they were forced to feel more empathy, and they felt closer. But that’s our nature. What happened in Paris just felt closer to home for them than what might have happened in any other region.

What’s relieving is the fact that this terrible incident gave us a chance to think about other terror-susceptible regions, as well as about human nature. Without the tragedy, we would have kept our none-of-our-business stance towards other regions. It taught us a precious lesson: we are all equal beings, who have family, friends and adorable sons and daughters no matter where we live and where we watch a football match.

by Lim Hyun-soo, Citizen in Seoul





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