Remember, back a few weeks ago, when all we had to debate were a bunch of red coffee cups?
“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
Okay, so there was always a lot more going on in the world than that, but still…
It’s nearly a month till Christmas, and now the world is, once more, seeing red on the events of Friday the 13th and the latest November terrorist attacks by ISIS.
It began with Starbucks and their solid red cups, but it did not end there. It never does.
I had a conversation with my parents recently. In this conversation, my mom stated emphatically that, in the end, there is no way the US would actually elect Donald Trump as their president. My father and I aren’t so sure. At this point, a lot wouldn’t surprise me. That wouldn’t surprise me. This world is a crazy crazy place.
Listening to another one of Trump’s rants, about the popular coffee chain choosing just plain red, as their Christmas cup design, I was baffled by the attention America has given this man.
I was also baffled by the things that people obsess over, but there’s always something else, coming along, to shift the discussion to another outrage or outcry. People like to be angry about something: sometimes warranted and sometimes not.
Speaking of red…
that expression (seeing red) is one I’ve been thinking a lot about. It fits with my series: “In The News and On My Mind” and yet, going from some silly coloured coffee cups to the level of outrage at those poor people injured and killed in France has me thinking about my favourite colour, as the holiday season approaches.
I went slightly numb when I heard the news in progress last Friday night. Here we go again, I said to myself. It was approaching suppertime, and then…
Gun shots. Crack. Bomb blasts. Bang. Not again.
But just a few days earlier I’d heard about the cracks and the bangs, but in countries and cities I didn’t know.
Everyone knows Paris, but this had been already going on elsewhere in previous days. These attacks happen in other places, but that’s just what happens in places like Iraq, Turkey, Beirut, but not in France. Oh no.
I listened, through the night, until I could not listen anymore. I wanted to wait for more information because I wanted to know what we were dealing with, before my outrage flew out of control, like the rest of the world.
So, my Facebook newsfeed burst with people’s status rants, condolences in solidarity with France, and news stories from every angle. I tried to read it all, to educate myself and remain as informed as possible, but after a bit of a family emergency, a distraction from the wider world’s events, I had something closer to home to focus my attention and all my worry on.
The events of the wider world were silenced, as if someone turned the volume way down, in the background, and I may not have wanted that, but I almost welcomed the change and this other place to put all my energy.
What a lot to happen to my country’s brand new prime minister, a test of his capability, only a few weeks in. On his way to summits, dealing with economic matters and soon to be in PAris for talks on the environment.
Justin Trudeau’s big promised plan to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by New Year’s was going to be challenged. Some of the Canadian premiers are urging Trudeau to pull back, to think carefully.
Governors are calling for similar caution from President Obama. If even one extremist is allowed entry and the chance to do what was done in PAris, even amongst the larger group, this would be too much, right?
I’ve listened to all this and I am not the one in charge, thank God, but I do not wish to fight fear with fear and violence with violence. That is where the world is heading, where most countries start to head in times like these.
Again, where would I want the world to go with that? If I were innocently fleeing from my home, surrounded by violence and fear, what would I want from the rest of the world?
All the stories I heard with November 11th being just last week. All of what was known and what wasn’t done during the Holocaust. If the rest of the world knows people are suffering, and we all sit back and ignore it, what does that make us? If, one day, it is any of us in the other position and in need of help, what should we expect?
I’m born from a line of those who only want to see the best in people. I am also the granddaughter of two immigrants. We are all, for the most part, immigrants from one time or another.
Us and them. Those and we.
The Islamic State. Islamic religion. Islamic terrorists. It’s all so mixed up in people’s minds, but these are not the times where people should be excused for saying awful things and remaining uneducated. It hurts my head to stay educated on the world, forever changing and moving, but I have no choice now. It’s the world my niece and nephews will inherit, which means I have to care. I have no more choice to stay sheltered and hidden, as I was and did as a child.
I am slightly removed still, an entire ocean between myself and France, but I can imagine what it must be like, having something so threatening right in my back yard. I want the appropriate action taken against anyone who has an express purpose of destroying human life, no matter the reason. I know what he had to do, as president of the country attacked. I know all of Europe is under a whole lot of stress and strain, as more and more Syrian refugees keep coming. Canada just wants to help, but are we next?
We can’t keep all the danger removed from us over here, as much as we might want to. I want to live in a bubble sometimes, to avoid getting hurt, but what kind of a life would that be? People are afraid. I get that.
Out for a night, in Paris, and nobody thought there would be so much blood. Out at a soccer game, to listen to a concert, or simply out for dinner and now there’s more anger and fear than ever.
Oh, of course there’s plenty of kindness, compassion, and love. Facebook shows both the good and the bad in people, just like in other ways. I have read plenty of both. I’ve read some of the ugliest statements from people and some of the most compassionate.
I may be the naive one, the one seeing the best in people, even as it fades in and out. I just can’t bring myself to think ignorant thoughts and make judgments about people I don’t know.
In the week since Paris was targeted:
A Peterborough mosque was torched
a Muslim woman was attacked in Toronto while picking her children up from school.
Indifference leads to fear, which often leads to outright hatred.
We expect certain rights and freedoms over in North America and in Europe. We expect the Middle East to be violent and evil.
Fighting between Israeli and Palestinian sides.
More us and them.
Christians and Muslims.
Us and them.
ISIS is getting more creative apparently,
communicating through PlayStation gaming systems.
So many stories and new information coming in and how can anyone possibly keep up or know what’s true and what’s reality?
Facebook can be a curse at times like these. The debate over the changing of profile pictures was everywhere the other day. This is exactly why my mother’s advice to stay out of commenting and debating on Facebook is so smart. So what if someone wants to show their support or their emotion this way. And if they choose not to, that’s fine too.
On and after Friday night I wrote and posted how I felt, on my blog pages and my personal page, but I did not change any profile pic of mine.
All the gun safety talk of late was pushed back with this newest terrorist attack. That’s how it goes in the media.
Before this, I was working on my thoughts for these “In The News and On My Mind” posts. Here’s what else I was planning to talk about:
On the morning before the attacks on Paris I woke up to alarming news. I don’t wish to use his name here, but he is one of Canada’s most notorious murderers and he supposedly wrote a novel.
As a writer I was disgusted, but I suppose even Hitler wrote a book once.
Freedom of speech and all that, but I could not read such a book. I believe someone should, to find out what we’re dealing with, but I’m just glad it is not me.
Who, on earth, would help him do this in the first place?
These next two items have to do with the ethics of aquariums, zoos, and marine parks and the role my country plays in the global risk for the environment.
Embattled Sea World to overhaul killer whale show
As this article states, I am not sure Sea World has seen the light. They want to redeem themselves, after Blackfish, but upon seeing it myself and on further reflection, I want better for those majestic marine mammals I love so much.
And then there was Obama’s rejection of Canada’s Keystone Pipeline project.
I don’t want to sound like an environmental nut, because God knows I am not. I know oil has its uses and how much we all depend on it. I also know that the whole topic of oil makes me feel yucky. I don’t like the thought of it being pumped underground. I don’t like the alternative, which resulted in
but how often does just such a tragedy happen? I don’t know the political elements that were involved in Obama’s decision or the plans Canada has going forward, but I think of poor marine animals, when the inevitable oil spill happens again, and I want a better option. I know all the fighting and the greed that goes on over oil and Canada has lots of it. I can’t say I was totally unhappy with President Obama’s choice, as uneducated on all the rest as that might make me.
And so it’s my own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who made a promise during his campaign: 25,000 refugees would be brought to Canada by the end of the year. Is this a good idea? More naive liberalism?
Liberals and conservatives.
Us and them.
Perhaps Canada needs to rethink things a bit? Not go back on Trudeau’s promise, but maybe, in the shadow of Friday the 13th attacks, slow the whole process down some.
We’re seeing, learning more and more about the process and how it will all come about. Skeptics ask if everyone so welcoming of refugees is willing to take some into our own homes:
First of all, I want to understand and to hear the individual stories.
From one refugee to another: What you need to know about Canada
It warms my heart that there are, in and amongst the uninformed and fearful comments, stories like these:
Canadian Couple Cancels Big Wedding to Sponsor a Family of Syrian Refugees Instead
We all know about boats full of migrants: women, children, and men too. Women and children are one thing, but the young men are all clearly terrorists, right?
I shake my head at this. I don’t let fear rule my notions of every single man coming off of those boats or fleeing Syria and into a refugee camp. What about the violence and the persecution these men are running from in their countries? Men can be in danger too. It’s the isolation and the desolation that leads to anger and vulnerability. This is what ISIS prays on. We can’t give in. We can’t let them win by making us afraid, using that fear against us, so we end up frozen by our suspicions.
I do not have any answers in this case. I still don’t know how to write about most of this, as it all feels much too big and broad. There are good and bad people everywhere and I refuse to give in to the fear, but more and more it seems that’s what leaders, politicians, and the media suggests.
So if you are one of the many, “seeing red” at the crazy world we live in, I can understand and, believe me, I have my moments. However, I beg you to try to keep to your compassionate side, to look towards those who have let anger go, in favour of productive strategies and kindness.
As much as I love red, I leave that for the celebrations that are coming around the holidays, for most of us. The colour red is better suited for holly berries and ribbon. I would remind us all to remember that we are all human, all of us.
For more views on this, here are some posts written by fellow bloggers:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King Jr.