Hairy House

Hairy House

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Why we feel so bad for France. Or why I do, anyway.

Up to now I haven't done much ranting here, but feeling frustrated with comments I have seen in social media and heard and hey, that's the privilige of having a blog isn't it? 
The latest horror stories from Paris and Beirut have left many of us with conflicted feelings.  There is, of course, the disgust and pity that any human feels at such horrendous, pointless violence directed at innocent people. But there is also the question of who really is to blame, and, something that worries many of us here in the UK - why has Paris eclipsed other atrocities like the ones in Beirut, Africa, Palestine? Many people are critical of those of us who have changed our profile pictures on facebook to the colours of the French flag (though I would like to point out that it was easy - whereas I couldn't work out how to change my picture to that of the Lebanese flag or any other) Anyone who knows me, knows that I am instinctively drawn to the underdog, (which is why I support the English team in rugby and soccer) but to be honest, this time, I can't help feeling that it would do us all good to lighten up and not beat ourselves and others up for feeling maybe a little more sympathy for the French than we should and this is why:

I for one, know what it's like to live through war. I know what it's like to lie under a table and listen to the whistling of the bombs as they hurtle downwards, not knowing if they will land on your own house or not. I know what it's like to feel the ground shake and heave and to be engulfed in relief that you are safe, this time, but also with the guilt of knowing that someone else is not. I know what it's like to listen to the media and have them belittle your situation; as in reports on the BBC "We have just seen a scud land in the ***** area of Riyadh....oh, no, apparently the scud was hit by a patriot missile whilst still in the air....oh no, apparently it was hit before it came anywhere near Riyadh...oh no, apparently there was no scud missile, this is just another night in the capital...." I know what it's like to watch armed soldiers walk the streets outside, jaws set, eyes glittering with madness. But let's face it, my war in the gulf only lasted ten days and I was only a child, not understanding what was going on in Liberia.
 I don't know what it's like to live a war like that, day in, day out for decades. I can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like to pack up my family and climb into a tiny, crowded boat and take to an unruly, unpredictable sea, not knowing what I will find on the other side, but knowing that anything must be better than the life I am living.
However, I can imagine what it is like to walk the streets of Paris. Though I haven't been to Paris itself, I have been to many other cities in France and Europe, my parents live in France and my parents-in-law spend a great deal of time there, one of my brothers-in-law is French. So I can imagine only too well, the people sitting in cafes, chatting, arguing, flirting, full of TGIF and wine and laughter. And that is why, in some ways, the bombing of Paris is more real to me. I rather suspect that to many in the Middle East, the bombing of Beirut is more real to them, than Paris. I doubt many people will read this and I am sure that many will be violently disagreeing with everything I'm saying, but I just wish that, with all the other things we have to be depressed about at the moment, criticism against those who have responded so strongly to the problems in Paris as opposed to other parts of the world, could be taken out of the equation. Whilst I think that, as humans, one of the most important things we can do is to try and imagine, to put ourselves in other people's shoes, to remember that, if it wasn't for the grace of luck, or chance, or fate, or God, or whatever you want to call it, any of us could be Jews, or Palestinians or Syrians or members of Isis etc, I think sometimes we need to remember that we are all human, after all.

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