IT HAS become fashionable on social media to find various ways to express solidarity with people who have become victims of violence and strife.
For example, when 10 journalists and two cops were killed in an attack on the newsroom of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, many draped the French flag over their profile pictures. Je suis Charlie, many said—I am Charlie, one with those who were killed and the community that was attacked.
Countless other places and thousands of other people have suffered attacks and injustice in many forms. The fortunate ones survive and live to tell about what they went through. Some live but lose their homes, families and all hope. Others pass on without even being known. Their families cannot grieve them, much less the outside world who are only made aware of them through the media.
This week, it was Syria. The government of Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on rebel forces. Alas, most of the casualties were civilians—children, specifically. In reaction, the United States launched a missile strike on Syria.
It’s war, and there are political and diplomatic consequences especially since the latter attack could not have pleased US’ newfound friend, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But we leave that to high-level, foreign policy experts.
War takes many prisoners, and many of them do not have to be taken by the other party and put behind bars. Often, out of sheer randomness of birth, people are in the wrong place at the wrong era, strangers to many things that people in other parts of the world take for granted.
We the fortunate did not have to do anything to be spared from this kind of trouble. This is exactly why it is foolhardy to be indifferent to the suffering of others. Then again, we do not have to look far or look hard to witness others’ ordeal in the name of some ideology, or campaign.
Expressing oneness through social media is one form, but is not an end in itself. Be aware of the issues and their underlying causes. Follow developments. Make a mental note of the people affected and as many individual stories as possible. Ponder how the world could be better and if there were one tiny deed one can do to make the slightest dent.
The world is far from perfect, but it does not mean people should stop trying to empathize with those who bear the brunt of its imperfections. And then perhaps indiscriminate killing, conspicuous spending and hateful language will at least be diminished.