Being Global Citizens in Times of Terror

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The Louvre Museum in luminous Paris, France. (Photo by DMG)

Being global citizens…

Several of the people killed by Daesh terrorists in Paris were originally from other places:

One woman was from Veracruz, Mexico; she was about to marry.

One Chilean grandmother had fled the Pinochet dictatorship. Her daughter and their two Chilean friends were also killed.

One man from Madrid, Spain was only 29; he died while having dinner.

One 28 year old woman, a student at the Sorbonne, was from Venice, Italy.

One salesman was from Colchester, England.

A married couple was from Portugal.

A young couple celebrating a birthday was from Romania.

One man from Sweden and another from Germany were in their 20s.

Two sisters were from Tunisia.

An architect was from Rabat, Morocco.

Two friends out on a beautiful Friday night in the city of lights were from Algeria.

Two others were from Senegal.

One was a college student from California: Nohemi Gonzalez was a 23 year old Mexican American, the first generation in her family to be born in the United States. Nohemi was getting ready to graduate from California State University Long Beach; she was living her dream of studying design during a semester abroad in Paris. That night, Nohemi was sharing a meal with classmates and friends.

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A winter’s night in Paris, France. (Photo by DMG)

There is shock, and sadness, yet again, as every news outlet covers the horror, relentlessly. There is a global outpouring of sympathy for France, just like the collective outpouring the United States received  after 9/11.

As global citizens we step back. We think. We ask: why was there no massive collective sigh or mourning for the dead in Beirut–or for any of the slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?

Perhaps there is more press coverage because it is more unusual for such terror to happen in France, the most visited country in the world. Each of us who have been tourists there wonders if we could have been one of the massacred.

Yes, it is true: we feel more profoundly when the event is personal, when we lose someone who is familiar to us–one of our own. We feel less, we feel differently, when the horror happens in a place and to people distant and different from us. Maybe, that is human nature.

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Street art in Paris, France. (Photo by DMG)

But, as global citizens we stop. We think: truly, how distant and different are we from each other, and from those killed by Daesh terrorists: 350 randomly wounded civilians and 129 killed in Paris, France on Friday 13 November; 239 randomly wounded civilians and 43  killed in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday 12 November?

Victims in Beirut were also originally from numerous places in the world, including Syria. There, too, victims were connected to family and friends across geopolitical boundaries many times over.

As global citizens we ask: how much more impersonal are distant terror events? Really, how far apart are we from each other? Don’t we all come from somewhere else? And those who claim that they have hunkered and taken ownership of a place and way of being for generations, don’t your cousins Skype? Lovers text and Face Time? Grandmothers still snail mail? Don’t your siblings pick up a landline to hear an adored voice across time and space? Don’t you get in cars, trains, and planes–made in far away towns–to go see, to experience? Don’t you eat the fruit of the whole earth, planted and harvested by those you have never met in person?

As global citizens we say: it is the end of 2015, to paraphrase Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; the pollution in China most definitely affects all of us, let’s say. Reality affirms the fact that everything is familiar and near; everything is personal–or should be.

As global citizens we accept–we welcome–that realization; we are compelled by empathy and by knowledge to understand that we and the earth we inhabit are at a crossroads, that now–more than ever before–we must purposely reach across time zones, across geographies, across borders, ethnicities, races, cultures, religions and other divisions to connect consciously with the humanness in each of us–not in a Kumbaya sort of way, but in solidarity, and in remembrance that “we” are “them” and “they” are “us.”

This entry was composed by Dulce María Gray. It is dedicated to Cynthia Napoli-Abella Reiss who works arduously in support of global citizenship principles.

 

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