Respect - more than just a word.

In Times of Tragedy, Remember the Good

Written By Maddy Crehan

buzzfeed 27 most powerful photos of this week

Outside the French Embassy in Berlin, a day after the Paris attack, Image from Buzzfeed’s 27 Of The Most Powerful Photos Of This Week

Over the past week we have witnessed unthinkable events that have shocked the globe. First with the bombings in Beirut, then the attacks in Paris just days later. It is difficult in times like these not to let our faith in humanity be challenged. However if there is one positive thing we can take away from these tragedies it is our ability as people to unite as a group. This is a common response in the face of trauma and tragedy. But this ability to unite has been somewhat forgotten, if not under-valued this past week.

Millions of people around the world have shown support and empathy for the people of Paris – and don’t get me wrong this is a brilliant display of the kindness and compassion of humanity – but it has not been equally met with support for the people of Beirut. Both events involved the killing of innocent people in acts of terrorism. Even though it’s not commonly seen or heard, a death in the Middle East is still a death around the world, and it deserves attention.

This also does not mean you shouldn’t show compassion towards Paris – any act of human kindness is encouraged – but it is important to acknowledge when and why we are being selective in doing so. In a poem that has reached countless eyes around the world Karuna Ezarah Parikh wrote “Say a prayer for Paris by all means, but pray more…For a world that is falling apart at all corners, and not simply in the towers and cafes we find so familiar”.

Relatives of a victim in Beirut, photo from The New York Times

Relatives of a victim in Beirut, photo from The New York Times

Another failure of unity arising in communities around the world, is the exclusion of or even violence towards the Muslim population. This unjustified vilification of a group of people is causing fear and terror among nations, which is precisely the aim of the terrorists. There is no greater force than a united people. We know we are capable of great love and support following a tragedy, or disaster – we’ve seen it after countless natural disasters that have swept the globe – so why is now any different?

Despite hearing various stories of violence towards Muslims across the world, we must acknowledge the positive stories also, in order to spread the sense of hope, inclusion and solidarity. A heart-warming example of this was when a Muslim man stood in the streets in Paris after the attack with two signs reading ‘I’m a Muslim, but I’m told that I’m a terrorist’ and ‘I trust you, do you trust me?  If yes, hug me.’ Numerous Parisians hugged this man in a beautiful display of solidarity.

hug me gif

Muslim man in Paris’ Place de la Republique, Image from

Waleed Aly has been praised for his widely viewed segment on The Project addressing ISIS and the recent attacks. One of the most important statements he makes is this: “We all need to come together. I know how that sounds, I know it’s a cliche. But it’s also true.” Waleed urges people not to give into the fear promoted by these terrorists. Nothing threatens their attempts more than hope and unity.

A beautiful video shown on French TV show Le Petit Journal went viral this week, showing a young boy and his father being interviewed as they pay their respects at the site of the Paris attack. The young boy expresses his fear of having to move from their home to escape terror, to which his father replies “we don’t need to move out. France is our home…they might have guns but we have flowers”. This powerful message exchanged by a father and son can be a lesson to everyone. Flowers and candles are more than just a sign of respect and remembrance for those who have lost their lives – they are a symbol of hope and comfort in a time when we need it most.

Though these evil acts of terrorism may demonstrate the worst of mankind, we have the ability to show the best; compassion, aid and hope. Due to the incredible rise in social media and ability to access to information, it is easy to be overcome by the tragedy and despair that seems to shadow over humanity, but it is important to remember the amount of good and justice that is present as well. Every time you hear a story of ignorant violence towards Muslims, remember the number of people who stood by and hugged the Muslim man in Paris. Every time you see a hateful or incorrect tweet or status, remember that there are countless people, like Waleed Aly, determined to spread truth, justice and unity. Never forget the good, even in times of tragedy.

you cant divide us

Flowers stand next to a sign near the Bataclan concert hall. Photo: Simon Dawson, The Age




Maddy Crehan

Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.


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