From Syria To Sydney: We Say We Stand United, Yet Our Interests Are Divided


The terror attacks in Paris have laid a path for an important conversation about who we grieve for, and from where. Jessica Issa explains.

We Westerners remain very informed about global tragedies that interest us, specifically anything that occurs in another Western country. However, in order for us to sternly face the global threat of terror and the rise of adversity, we civilians cannot afford to be selective in our knowledge of the catastrophes that take place abroad. We need to know about every attack that is taking place, everywhere.

Of course a tragedy in the West, like the Paris attacks, is of greater relevance to us and seems easier to relate to than, for example, a bombing in Baghdad. Watching horror unfold upon the West is more shocking to us because it’s taking place somewhere we never thought it would, as opposed to a city in the Middle East that seems to have forever faced conflict.

Unfortunately, horror seems more real and more touchable to many of us, when it’s happening in a city we’ve been to, a city we’ve studied in school, a city closer to home.

But an attack in the West should not be viewed as a greater tragedy than the murders frequently occurring in places like Palestine, Lebanon or Africa.

Our message is to stand together against adversity, yet our interest is inconsistent.

How can we possibly stick together and fight this threat of terror, when our knowledge about it is worlds apart?

Tragedy is tragedy, and blood will spill the same red whether it spills onto Western or Eastern soil.

There is currently an option on Facebook enabling us to change our profile picture to resemble the colours of the French flag, in order to show our support for France.

Why was there no option on Facebook to change our profile picture to resemble the colors of the Lebanese flag the night before the Paris attacks, when at least 41 people were murdered by two suicide bombings in Beirut claimed by Islamic State, leaving over 200 innocents injured?

Why is there no on-going option on Facebook for a profile picture change in support of global peace? In support of all innocent victims of terror all over the world?

The Bourj al-Barajneh Refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Bourj al-Barajneh Refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.

Yes, the attacks in Paris were on a larger-scale than those in Beirut, but if we are to stand tall against terror, we cannot do it half-heartedly or selectively. It’s all or nothing. We have to support one another from corner to corner of this great earth.

You want to unite? Let us unite in loudly treating each incident of terror as a wrongdoing that will not be tolerated no matter which scale it occurs on, or which city it occurs in.

Let us ensure we remain informed about every global attack, and encourage each other to yearn and demand such information.

We say we stand united, yet our interests are divided. When will we open our eyes, hearts and minds?

How many innocent deaths in the West is it going to take before our attention is equally drawn to the frequent terror-driven murders around the rest of our world?

How many global hashtags for every Western tragedy will be created before a hashtag for every other tragedy is equally shared?

How much blood must be spilled before we start spilling the truth of what is happening to our foreign brothers and sisters?

How many hearts must be broken before we start breaking the shackles of those media outlets that only report to meet our interests?

How many questions will helpless victims ask the journalists interviewing them before we start questioning our governments?

They say silence is golden, but this no longer stands true. Silence is the voice of the cowardly.

We say we want to stand strong and stand together, but that strength can only prevail with knowledge, with courage, with acceptance.

We must accept that any acts of terror occurring on our earth, are affecting us as a human race, and our future. Although these acts may take place in a country you’ve never heard of, to a religious populous you don’t identify with or to a city you’ve never been to, they are of equal value and damage to incidents taking place closer to home.

Do not turn a blind eye just because you haven’t seen footage of it happening. It’s happening, and it affects you. Why? Because although we may be separated from these tragedies abroad by sea, language or religion, these people are sharing the same land as you, albeit far away.

We are all breathing the same air that carries a mother’s scent from Baghdad to Boston, we are all feeling the same wind that travels the sound of a widow’s cry from Palestine to Paris, and we are all drinking the same water that quenches a child’s thirst from Syria to Sydney.

Jessica Issa is a double-degree graduate of Charles Sturt University, Bathurst with a degree in journalism and in public relations. Jessica lives in Sydney and is passionate about human rights, world news and the wonders of human interaction. Follow @jessicaissa1