Most people won’t read or share this; don’t let this massacre of Students distract you from videos of cats and posts from Ladbible… Such is the wasted potential of humanity, since the advent of social media.
This week in Kenya, a massacre of 148 students took place. They were students murdered by four armed Terrorists of al-Shaabab. Some students were able to survive and have told harrowing stories. One sad story, such as, a man whom smeared blood on himself and hid amongst the bodies of his dead and dying friends. Or other harrowing stories, like the woman who hid terrified in a cupboard for two days. She was so scared to come out, that her rescues had to desperately convince her she was finally safe.
The question becomes; what is surviving and what is safe? These students will have to live on with these terrible memories and experiences for their lifetime. Expectedly, their university remains closed indefinitely. Their future hangs desperately in the balance. Most sadly, they will have to live on in fear each day in a country where Al-Shaabab’s militants remain at large and continue their threats of mass-violence.
I was you, to spare a moment for the 148 who did not survive. The clothes of their families will be no less soaked in tears. The screams of their sorrows will echo around the streets, churches, mosques, homes and fields of their country with no less anguish.
Yet, the world does what to combat, acknowledge, condole or seek retribution for their murders?
There will be no foreign leaders photo opportunity or Je suis… hashtag. Most newspapers won’t run their tragic deaths on their front pages.
The question is why do we seemingly care less? Well, a quick look at Zizek on Violence, can explain our western mindset to non-western deaths and/or violence.
Over the last decade, 4 million people died in the Democratic Republic of Congo – mostly political killings. Time magazine ran a cover story in 2006, titled “The Deadliest War in the World,” chronicling this state of affairs. But there was no uproar, no one took up on it. Comparatively, the death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or an American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese… and yet the U.S. media reproaches the public in foreign countries for not displaying enough sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Zizek On Violence
Replace 9/11 with the tragic deaths of the Charlie Hedbo staff and we are in the same situation. We ask the world to weep for our loss or a loss close to us, without showing the same sadness or respect to their losses. Or worse, the thousands of lives we have had a hand in killing; from the estimated 1.2million(at least) that have died due to the so called ‘War on Terror’.
“Antoine you’re wrong! I do care; I wrote that status about the Charlie Hedbo Attack…”
Well, at the same time as 12 people died in France, there were 12 other terrorist attacks around the world. The most horrific were the 2000 or more people that died in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram. Where were their Je suis hashtags, protests, headlines, posters, vigils, status or tweets?
I think the solution in 2015, is that we need to think more about our united humanity rather than ‘them and us’. We need to see their deaths as our deaths. Their lives as our lives. We need to move further together instead of drifting further apart. It is strange, that we are socially connected but more emotionally disconnected; this banality of violence must stop.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all play a part in showing a lack of empathy
For instance, check your own timeline; when was the last time you shared something meaningful, positive or educational. Check your mind; when was the last time you read a story about someone who did not look like you, who did not live in your country or was not ‘famous’? When was the last time you sat and read a news story from start to finish? When was the last time you thought “I will not let this story be forgotten between the posts about cats and selfies”? When was the last time you thought someone needs to read this; “The world needs to read, see and act on this”? A long time? This is because of the banality of violence. This is whereby, we choose between whose deaths we care about and whose we do not, whose lives are worth protesting, weeping and commiserating versus, those we swipe last and skip over.
In our contemporary world, there is a buffet of media; we would rather digest the sweet pointless posts and videos than the news stories and tragedy that leaves a lump in our throat.
Well, it could be because they are Black, could be because they are far away or even simply because the media has created a narrative about Africa. That narrative is a place that is uneducated, uncivilised and a conflict zone. Africa is not seen as a place of development, growth, innovation and full of people with hopes, dreams and aspirations just like anywhere else. This media driven narrative means people read stories about Africa and think “that’s ok, that happens there all the time”. This gives people an excuse not to emphasise. Not to care. Not to share. Not to write that status, tweet or share that post. “Africa and violence is old news”. Do these lives not matter? Are we that busy sharing rubbish that we can’t take a moment to care for these students?
Look around you, read the news, read your own timeline of friends and you will see we are divided and we are failing each other. Realistically, we can not change the foreign policy mistakes of the past or the political decisions of the present. However, we can change our personal thoughts, social media activity and become the change we want to see. It is only through provoking change today that we can influence the future of tomorrow.
Only by standing together can we stop this descent into a world, whereby extremist attacks become more frequent; in a world that becomes more marginalized and narrow-minded. A world whereby, we still elect people who do not care or represent our lives. A world whereby, we allow ourselves to be distracted by fake realities and celebrate infamy rather than talent and substance. A world whereby, the gap between rich and poor grows each year. A world whereby, a “like” is valued more than real tangible protests, thought provoking, debate, discussion, actions and change!
I do not pretend to have the answers, but if we think together, we act together. I believe we can come up with a better answer than the minority that keeps failing us and the world!
I often suggest to people that they should read this poem when someone passes away who is close to them. I think it is still fitting for this tragedy.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
By Mary Elizabeth Frye
RIP to these students. RIP to the many that will sadly befall a similar fate. RIP to those who have already
befallen such a tragic fate.
Thank you for reading.
“Three 3c’s of life Choice, Chance & Change; you have to make the choice, to take the chance if you want anything to change.”
Please follow my blog, Youtube, Facebook and/or @AntoineSpeaksOn twitter. Below are some of the generic questions I have had since writing this post.
Do I have to share this blog?
No, but share something. Share something of support, something of substance, something that inspires, something that challenges people to do something, care and emphasise. Most of all share your own opinion. I am just one person; just like yourself. My opinion is no better than anyone else’s. As an Arab saying goes “The same rainwater, grows weeds as well as roses; but the rain remains the same” Most of you reacted ‘positively’. Others not so much. Such is life.
Should I stop having fun on the internet/social media?
No, of course not. The internet is a gift. A gift filled with fun, interesting, funny, cute and amazing videos/posts/sites/thoughts. However between the fun stuff, simply take a minute to care. It doesn’t have to be every day; but when the time comes. When a story is so bad that the world must react. REACT don’t be apathetic, distant and disinterested.
Antoine, saying “Most People” is a generalisation; Why don’t you feel it devalues your post?
“All generalisations are false, but this to is a generalisation” Someone far smarter than myself said that. If you clicked on the blog you are not most people. However, if your only reaction to the blog is the title. Not Kenyan deaths, not the world ignoring Congo, not the world picking which deaths matter, not society becoming increasingly distracted by rubbish, not the media-driven narrative that Africa is only a place of violence and not the call for you to change either your ways or attempt to inspire the people you know to change theirs; then you have wasted your time reading this blog. The title is a call to action. Simple as that. Message me and I will explain the nature of the internet in 2015. Sometimes you have to challenge people to think i.e. The greater good.
FYI- Please note I wrote this blog post in April 2015. However, after the Paris attacks and many other attacks, I have since wrote this(click the link to read): “I will not let terrorist make me afraid and nor should you”