I just read an article by Claire Bernish entitled "America: Your Solidarity with Paris is Embarrassingly Misguided." It ticked me off. This is the response I wrote;
" So I am somehow less-globally sensitive because of my response to the Parisian attack? Because I changed a jpg on a social media site I am now ignorant of and/or complicit in the evil done in the world in the name of crass capitalist greed and self-serving political posturing? You know what Claire, your hipster, bloggy ennui and jaded self-importance is JUST as much a part of our rancid cultural exports as are turning a blind eye to human trafficking and ecological exploitation. Ugh. Sure, we in the US are rather myopic. Maybe we were less shocked when the violence wasn't against white people in a 'civilised' city. But how dare you dismiss and even denigrate the quintessentially human instinct of sympathy?"
I re-read my response and a little voice in the back of my head asked, "why are you so upset? Was she talking about you?" I had read a piece of general criticism and I took it personally. I then remembered this article I read last week titled "I, Racist" by John Metta about why he doesn't bother to discuss race with white people anymore. here's an excerpt;
"White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals...They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it.
"What they are affected by are attacks on their own character. To my aunt, the suggestion that "people in The North are racist" is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn't exist because they don't see it."
When I read Metta's observations on race discussions, I didn't feel personally attacked because I have seen this exact response a bunch of times. Personally I believe it is the same knee-jerk response that prompted the NotAllMen hastag that derails discussions of sexual violence against women. I see it also in the Not All Cops-type responses to discussions of institutionalized racism within law enforcement.
So, back to Ms. Bernish's article.. I disagree with her premise. However, my disagreement immediately took a narcissistic form of defending myself as though she referred to me, personally. I could lump myself with the group of people she attacks because I did indeed change my profile picture. But, in fact, I myself have often lamented the lack of global interest demonstrated by plenty of folks in the US.
Nevertheless, we really *need* to stop reacting as individuals and start thinking of ourselves as part of a group--that group is People Daesh Wants to Hurt (we could go with the group Humanity, but baby steps are called for here I think). There's a bunch of us, in fact it's most of us on the planet. If someone is new to the outrage party, instead of giving them crap about being late, be happy they made it at all. If you've been clear on what was at stake for a long time, well, help catch the newbies up instead of mocking them as ignorant.
There's another topic I've been reading about lately, the concept of tikkun olam; the Jewish principle of repairing the world. There's plenty of debate about the origins and "true" meaning of this principle. But from what I can tell, it speaks to a sense that there is a deep rupture in the universe and that we have an obligation to help repair it. So I would ask Ms. Bernish to stop criticizing those who weep to see the violence in Paris, but didn't know about Beruit. That is not the point. The point is that Daesh wants to set our world on fire, and now there's a few more people for the bucket line.