A poorly lit secondary street, inexplicable gunshots, a grotesque voice yelling “what’s going on?”, lifeless bodies dragged face-down and people desperately holding onto windowsill, onto life.
It is with the images of the frantic moments outside the Bataclan still on my mind, that I switched on my phone on Saturday morning to check Facebook and Twitter. What I found on my feeds was almost as painful as what I witnessed the night before. A tragedy, the harshest tragedy in Europe since WWII, had quickly been turned into a ruthless social media political quarrel. From “Why didn’t the media cover *insert country here*?” to people ranting because of the absence of a Lebanon flag profile picture filter on Facebook, it seemed as if everyone’s need was to distance himself from the excessively mainstream position of condolence and empathy towards the victims of Paris.
The debate had in fact quickly shifted towards a policy analysis with the most discording, and sometimes ridiculous, positions being held by the most different people. I found advocates of bombardments regardless of the civilians that may be involved, I read comments of people claiming “you shall not respond to violence with violence” hence condemning any military action, the catastrophe was randomly blamed on Conservatives, Corbyinism, Israel, the EU, the US and on any other political entity of any sort.
As I do not want to put myself in such a clueless opinion rodeo with judgments driven by fear and vision blurred by anger, I suggest we all take a step back. There will be a day to analyse past policies and to advocate for new ones, there will be a day for ruthless policy makers to blame what happened solely on immigration and for negationists to assert that the attacks have nothing to do with religion, but that day is not here yet. Today we are still shocked by the crude images of Paris, we shall pay tributes to the victims and not exploit the tragedy for our needs. We owe it to the victims, we owe it to the families that will go home to an empty bed, to the children that will grow up without the caresses of a mother, the leading example of a dad.
We have the fortune to live in a country and attend a university that are a crucible of different identities and cultures. Make good use of them. Meet new people, learn about different customs and traditions, share a pint with someone new, taste their food, question your home country’s stereotypes, avoid prejudices, talk to that kid from that country you thought existed only on geographical maps and you will discover the beauty of respecting and appreciating the differences. In light of what happened Friday we ought to do so in order to create a better future, not to strengthen us in the overused “we against them” dichotomy but rather to enlarge the “we” in a general sense, so that there will not be any sort of “them” in the future.
We should all think, doublethink and rethink about our opinion on complex issues such as counteractive measures against terrorism before sharing them with the world. Investigate before coming to conclusions, challenge yourself before clicking send. Question widespread ideas and if you’re not sure about what to think it is perfectly fine to take your time. Free speech is a great value. Especially in times like this, it is important we use it wisely.
In loving memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris,
Sit vobis terra levis.
Edoardo Tricerri writes for The Manchester Magazine on a range of topics that go from sport to international politics. He is a second-year Politics and International Relations student at the University of Manchester