In a world where violence is the norm, few acts leave me feeling scared, angry, and powerless all at once as often as terrorist attacks. In those moments, I need to write: to darken the paper with my anger at the perpetrators, to wet its hardness with the tears of my sadness for the victims and their families, to crumple its smoothness with the frustration at the utter helplessness that comes with knowing these acts will continue to happen.
I usually manage to restrain myself, preferring instead to read the accounts of survivors of these attacks and the stories of the brave souls who help others, whether close friends or complete strangers, often times fatally because I believe no stories could be as gripping, as emotive, as human as the accounts of people who experience these attacks.
Now more than ever and with every attack that occurs almost everywhere as it seems at times, I have come to realize that nobody is safe and that terrorism needs a response from everyone. This is borne out by how incredibly normal the victims of these attacks are. Whether you’re a trader in a market in Northern Nigeria, a student in Garissa, a tourist in Paris or just a pedestrian walking down a street in Beirut, these terrorists have shown an uncomfortable and unerring ability to hit people when they think they are safe or least vulnerable.
This makes me uncomfortable especially when coupled with comments of people who seem not to be concerned about these attacks just because they haven’t experienced one in close proximity or others who try to politicize, racialize, or attach religious connotations to despicable acts by savages who have no regard for human lives, theirs especially. I don’t imagine that more appreciation of the severity of these events would suddenly reduce or eradicate their occurrence but it would go a long way in making sure that the kind of care, solidarity and love shown by all sorts of people in the wake of these attacks can be shown more often without the prompting of a recent attack but in realization of our humanity and mortality.
I don’t have the answers to eradicating terrorism and every suggested solution at present seems to have gaping flaws in it but I hope instead of achieving their targets of spreading fear and hate, these attacks make us appreciate the need to be that little bit kinder to one another. We all need that now more than ever in a world as unsafe as it ever was.