Oh Paris and The Faux Pas of Americains (Started November 15th, 2015)

Disclaimer: I started this piece after patiently waiting. I didn't want to fall into any cliched viewpoint or politically incorrect trap. Sadly, the French flag takeover of Facebook and all social media thereafter drove me into a frenzy. I never published it in fear of a backlash. So now that the year is over and everyone is now holding a light saber instead of being superimposed into a translucent French flag - I'll post.

I feel awful about Paris. I even shed tears. However, I have zero alliance to Paris. Let me elaborate. I've visited for a few days and hours. I've been to all the places that those who have never been hold dear. I generally didn't like Paris and I don't long for it as I do other parts of France. Here's the thing… I find it very hard to believe that terrorism affects places that don't seem like targets. I have to repeatedly ask myself why. This sort of correlates with why does God "take" people and why are we even here. Seriously, why did two towers full of people have to come down? And the even bigger question is why did we have to replace those towers with one bigger, stronger and taller?  I traveled through cities that were occupied by Hitler, bombed, flooded, engulfed in flames and or faced terrorist acts. There was never any evidence. There were no plaques. No monuments. No substitutions. Not even replacements. Things were simply restored to their original glory. Atocha. King's Crossing. Nantes. Only museums, history books, Wikipedia and those that lived through it could ever tell. We, America, are the only country who experiences disasters, wars and terror and take it in a completely different direction. We avenge our flags (the American flag, the Tea Party flag, the Confederate flag), our buildings, our landmarks but never our own people. I never wept for the Eiffel tower or for the French flag. I cried for the loss of lives. France was remarkable in the sense that they immediately wanted to avenge their people. They don't care for prayers, towers or principles. They countered same day. I wish I could say the same for us.

I also couldn't understand the social media debate of who to pray for or which tragedy was "better" than Paris'. That particular week it seemed as if everywhere was under siege. Kenya experienced a mass slaughter of people. America was busy killing its own as per usual. I just couldn't argue which was worse. No life is greater than another. Sadly, loss of life anywhere is devastating. I personally feel empathy isn't about getting on your knees but standing on your feet. Once standing you should be reaching as far as you can to assist others with their loss(es) and grief. Be it in actually showing up, donating or sending money - there should be an extended and offering hand. It was wonderful to see and hear of French people doing this in the droves before they took to their Facebooks or their God. Hands out of windows. Opening their doors. Waving on rooftops. Anything to help and spare another life. Not a Black life. Not a French life. A human life in a time of tragedy. The schools closed. The landmarks closed. The borders closed.The French took to the streets. They sang songs. They united. I don't believe they even noticed that there was a flag or a logo or anything to mark the uninvited terror of that Friday.

While I respect those who attempted to show solidarity I wanted to ask, what alliance did they even have to Paris? i.e. Are you French? Have you been? Do you know someone there? Are you hosting someone who is here that cannot go back due to the situation at hand? I wanted to ask these particular questions because had they aligned with any other type of loss or cause they would have asked themselves that. I struggled with the following…

Most people don't know that Kenya is a country and Africa is a continent.  
Most people don't interact with people that do not look like them or talk like them. 
Most people are not aware of current affairs going on in their own countries.
Most people have never traveled beyond their own country. 
Most people don't plan to go anywhere the majority of their lives. 
Most people have a small world view and believe that terrorism is escapable. 
Most people believe that refugees and or migrants choose to be. 
Most people think everyone and everywhere is fighting in a war and America is the only country deserving of peace

I guess Paris was different to most people because in their world view - social media, news media - this was so close to "home". However, if they heard gunshots or bombs near their homes they would have never let people in. They would turn out all the lights and lay on the floor. I guess during that week it was easier to ride the wave and change their profile pictures to a French flag. That is how they aligned with a culture and experience they knew nothing of. That is how we show empathy and awareness. So for that particular week of safety checks and profile images I ran the gamut of emotions. I was fascinated. I was disappointed. I was scared. Everyone's argument was so surreal. Refugees suddenly took from the homeless and the vets. All of the war mongers who wanted "boots on the ground" couldn't explain where they might go on a map. Our President wasn't enough and their President was overreacting. America is so great but being lost in translation is how we "came together"? 

Let us not forget how we watched many Black men die before our eyes on repeat (shot running, laying shot in the street, choked to death, shot point blank in a moving car that ultimately crashes). However, with the mere sound of what we are told is a bomb or blurry cell phone video of gunfire we are given a disclaimer, warned of the disturbing qualities and promised not to be shown the said footage more than once. The Eiffel Tower went dark in the city of lights but is actually four districts away from where the terror occurred. I don't believe we have closed down any of our wonders or shown any collective grief for our fallen. Walmart never closes. New Orleans has a lot of new coffee shops. Manhattan has a bigger and shinier building. We have the TSA and they bring many jobs. There may be a mural or two for those who got shot with hands up. Sadly, we have to get our own t-shirts. We aren't praying for young men and women suffering from mental illness. We pray and lobby to bear arms. We don't care for people losing their entire families over a six mile journey to the freedom we hardly utilize. We only care for football, free wi-fi and Black Friday sales. I know it may sound petty. Trust it would have sounded way more pettier then. But I am quite overdue for a one way ticket somewhere else. This place is going to implode from misguided, bigoted and violent doom. These people are going to vote and turn us into the country they have always wanted. We will be a safe, tame America where everyone will have uneducated free thought and guns galore. Six states have already made it so you need a passport for domestic travel. They want us to stay right where we are and gain no world view of what is really going on. 

Again, I feel for Paris. I feel for it just like I do Ferguson and Chicago and Kenya and Syria and Dubai and Port Au Prince and Iguala and Mobile and Caracas. I'm not going to change my profile picture though. I'm going to leave and change my world view while I still can. I don't pray. However, if I did I would pray for a place where I can raise my children and they can go to a school that encourages discussion without a raised hand. I'd like for my children to cultivate their own moral code and spirituality without me or a school and or government force-feeding them religion. I would rather worry about them having shrimp, having a shoreline and seeing fireflies versus fearing others radical ideology. I would like for them to know that when there is loss of life it is okay to grieve without choosing a side. I would also encourage them to show solidarity on their feet versus on their Facebook… I bet all those light saber people went to see Star Wars right?

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