But while we come to terms and deal with the aftermath of these atrocious acts, please remember who is truly responsible.
DO NOT blame refugees, and do not barre innocent people from entering Western states. These people are fleeing from the same people who have violently ended so many hundreds of lives. The likelihood of terrorists entering countries as refugees are extremely small, and we cannot risk the lives of innocent civilians due to mere speculation.
DO NOT blame the Islamic faith. The Muslims we know are kind, compassionate people. Their hearts are filled with faith and an overwhelming love for other people. The actions of a few terrorists do not represent the mentalities of millions of practising Muslims. Religion does not kill. Terrorists do. Furthermore, perpetuating Islamophobia in Western countries will only feed this war. Groups like ISIL are expecting attacks, such as the one that occurred in Paris, to heighten the divide between Western society and Muslims. These groups want you to channel your anger into hatred, so that they can use examples of Western Islamophobia in their rhetoric. They want us to hate each other.
DO NOT solely focus on acts of violence committed against Western nations. 40 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Beirut on Nov. 12, and another 19 were killed in Baghdad in a suicide bombing at a funeral. This came mere days after 12 people were killed in similar bombings and shootings in the Iraqi capital. Similarly, Nov. 9 saw suspected Boko Haram insurgents kill and injure dozens in Ngouboua, Chad, and Fotokol, Cameroon. The West Bank has been facing relentless violence for months, and brutality and fear are dominating much of Burundi. Pleading ignorance to atrocious acts in non-Western countries tells those survivors that we do not grieve for them, that we do not value them. Our sympathy and prayers must not be selective.
This is not to trivialize the seriousness of what happened in Paris. However, we must also stand in solidarity with victims whose stories do not necessarily make front page news.
Your feelings of anger and fear are valid. Rather than channeling these raw, powerful emotions into acts of xenophobia or hatred, choose love. Reach out to survivors. Offer aid to refugees who would otherwise be condemned to live with such violence on a daily basis. Read the stories of Parisians who opened their homes to survivors through the #PorteOuverte movement. Love is stronger.
And when you are standing in solidarity with the survivors, do more than adorning your social media posts with #PrayForParis or adding a temporary filter to your profile picture. Actively challenge the violence, racism, misogyny, and LGBTQ antagonism that is rampant in all corners of the world, including in your local community. Spread light and love, and quell hatred. Do more. Be more.
After all, hatred and fear will never truly win. It is love that makes us human, and it is love that will overcome.
The Martlet stands with the world.