Monday, July 4, 2016

If we want others to care about us, why don’t we care about others?

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Why do people care more about Paris or Brussels than Beirut? Why is there no Facebook safety check for terrorist attacks in Lebanon? These are frequent questions many Lebanese ask. But if we want others to care about us, can’t we at least show we care about others?

"The worst ISIS attack in days is the one the world probably cares least about", The Washington Post writes. "In the early hours of Sunday morning, as hundreds of Iraqis gathered during the holy month of Ramadan, a car bomb exploded in the crowded Karrada shopping district. The blast killed a staggering number of people — the latest death toll is at least 121 — including many children."

The London-based news website The New Arab published the names and stories of some of the victims:

"Akram and Mohammad, are two young brothers who ran a shop in Karrada. They were killed in the explosion. When the family informed their mother, she went into shock and died.

An eyewitness told the local Houna Baghdad TV that a group of primary school children had been at one of the shopping centres celebrating the end of school and the completion of the third grade. They had bought a cake. They remain missing.

Adnan Safaa Abo-Altman was a young man who on Thursday graduated from law school. His proud father, Safaa, had posted a collage of Adnan's childhood pictures interspersed with him in a sharp suit during the graduation on his Facebook page. The father is reportedly dead, while his other son, Ali, remains missing.

Iraqi football star Ghanem Oraybi, who played with the national team in the 1986 Mexico World Cup, was also in the vicinity of the bombing along with his teenage son, Dhulfiqar, who was killed. Another victim was Dr. Mustafa Hameed, who earned his PhD in microbiology last year. Social media users also shared several pictures of entire families who were killed in the brutal attack."
This year only, seven other terrorist attacks happened in Iraq. With this Sunday’s attack, the 2016 death toll is close to 500 Iraqis. 500 civilians, men, women and children killed by Daech terrorists. Is this number not high enough for the world to care? Not high enough for Lebanese to care?

Actually, sadly, most Lebanese only care when the world does. They follow the trend, so to speak. If the world says 'Je Suis Paris', 'Je Suis Brussels', 'Je suis Kenya', Orlando or Istanbul, they do to. If the world says nothing, they don’t bother.

The main argument these people use is rather disheartening: there are so many attacks in Iraq and no one cares, why should we? The answer is simple. Because we’ve been there. Because for over 15 years, during the so-called civil war, no one cared about us. People dying in Lebanon in terrorist attacks was so common, they became a statistic that was barely mentioned anywhere.

People who lived through these dark days know how difficult, how painful it is to be ignored. Those who were lucky enough to be born after the war are discovering the terrible reality of the world’s indifference. So they ask: Why do people care more about Paris or Brussels than Beirut? Why is there no Facebook safety check for terrorist attacks in Lebanon?

But strangely, they don’t give others the attention they so much crave. They don’t show any compassion for the people of Iraq that are going through what Lebanese have gone through. Have we become so self-centered, so egotistic, we became incapable of any compassion to others? Is showing we care only for show? Because it’s fashionable to be or not to be Charlie, for example? Because it’s cool to post Rainbow flags after a Daech thug attacks a gay nightclub in Orlando?

If we want others to care about us, the least we can we do is show we care about others. Maybe it’s not much, and it will surely not change a thing to their ordeal. But perhaps, just perhaps, it may put a little balm on their suffering.

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