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Monday, 15 April 2013

A lesson on mourning

Terrorist attacks, mass murders, war-zones, natural disasters...

No matter how accustomed we become to violence and scenes of tragedy, the horrific footage of fellow human beings losing their entire family to a tsunami, or iconic cities being reduced to nothing more than rubble due to a mindless act of terrorism will never fail to strike an emotional chord with us. 

Even on social media, a deathly silence descends over us all at the sight of these images. We find the words to say few things other than send messages of support to those affected by the disaster or tragedy, and we keep our eyes fixed on the screen, in a heartbroken stare.

Internationally, it is grief that unites us, and makes us stronger. It is our reminder that, for all these unspeakable acts that happen in the world, humanity refuses to bend to the will of the hateful, and that we will always remain, at our cores, loving and empathetic beings.

Of course, not all of us share this view. 

I see the same arguments being raised after any tragic event takes place in the world. 
"What about the troops who died today in *insert war-zone here*? I don't see any of you tweeting about that." 
The way in which we treat our armed forces leaves a lot to be desired. They lay their lives on the line for us daily, and yet, few people give them the respect that they truly deserve. That being said, the main thing that shocks society is the fact that acts of extreme hate or forces of nature can strike any town, in any country, at any time. There need be no warning, nor reason for the deaths and injuries that it causes, the lives that it tears apart. Those in the armed forces know the risks that they take in order to ensure their family and country's safety. If you want people to respect the sacrifice those in the armed forces make for us every single day, then raise awareness of said sacrifice. Don't undermine the loss others have experienced in their life to put them on the same level. It is better to build than to knock down, after all.
"Why do you care about what's happening in *insert country here* when you should care about what's happening where you live!"
Geography may pull us apart, but it is our hearts that bind us together. We are all human. Why should one mother's loss be more or less important than another's? Just because someone sends their sympathies out to the victims of a particular event, doesn't mean that they don't care about the suffering of someone who lives close to them. There is so much heartbreak in the world, if we aren't sending out our sympathies to those close to us, it's probably because we haven't heard of their plight. 
"You clearly don't care about what's happening in *insert country here*. 
This is the one that breaks my heart the most to read. Empathy is still alive. The stories that some people tell on the news still bring tears to our eyes. They are not fake. The majority of us are not saying that our thoughts go out to those affected by the events because we want people to perceive us as kind hearted, empathetic individuals. We do it because we do, genuinely care about these people and their lives. We feel wounded to think that fellow human beings could harm others in this monstrous way. It hurts. It hurts and it will continue hurting as long as we are alive to feel it. 

I suppose what I'm trying to say, is that it's okay to mourn for those in other countries. It's perfectly acceptable to mourn for those that you have never met, and will now sadly never have the chance to. 

It is not however, acceptable to make others feel inadequate for doing so.You do not have the right to tell others that they are only sending out their prayers and thoughts to people who they have never met in order to conform to the rest of society, or to get retweets, because for the vast majority, it simply isn't true.

Have faith in the goodness of humanity, and please stay safe, wherever you are.

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