I do think that life is so colorful and complex that it’ll sometimes ask us to hold two things to be true, even when they seem incompatible.
Beirut. Baghdad. It wasn’t just Paris that had to suffer unthinkable things this weekend, but the other places don’t get the same attention. It’s a bit messed up that we have a proven track record of having trouble mourning for people who don’t look like us… Or even worse, that we find it acceptable to think of it as “their” normal.
Paris. It’s still an unbelievable tragedy no matter how bad the world can be at times. Grief is grief and you can’t appoint yourself as the official coordinator of when and what to mourn. I know I don’t mourn global tragedies uniformly- I don’t know any humans who do.
My best guess is that we have a greater compulsion to mourn places that are familiar to us. Paris equals the sophisticated beauty of our imaginations. It’s a place that’s always been perceived of as safe. We’ve seen it with our eyes. Who hasn’t posted an Eiffel Tower selfie recently?
I don’t have any miracle solutions, but if our hearts go out to what’s familiar, why not increase our familiarity? Travel, and not just to developed Western countries. If you can’t, meet people from Burma, Somalia, Syria, so on. Read their books. Eat their meals. Learn what makes each -stan country unique. Or how Africa really isn’t a country.
In that great story Jesus told, our neighbors often come from foreign places. But when you have neighbors, you rejoice and weep with them. It’s just how you roll.