Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris, November 14th, 2015

The attacks on Paris are horrific, and evil.  There is no question about that.  They also greatly sadden anybody with human sympathy, including me.  I cannot express how sad they make me.

Part of me thinks, and I am sure many others completely believe, that the Parisians are entitled to their grief ... that what they should here from the world now is sympathy - not little notes giving a wider context.  Those posts could be viewed as downplaying the tragedy, or (worse still) exploiting it to make political points.

Thought part of me thinks that, however, I recognize that it is a short sighted view.  We live in a world filled with tragedies, mostly unacknowledged.  If I love my neighbour as myself, then surely I must love Syrians as much as Parisians - yet Syria has experienced the equivalent of 10 Paris attacks over the month of October alone (counting just civilian deaths).  If the 14th of November was a great human tragedy in Paris (as it undoubtedly was), then October 2015 was ten times the tragedy in Syria - as was the month before, and the month before that, for five years now.

If I ignore the manifold tragedy in Syria out of sympathy for Parisians - I reject the golden rule and the ethic which underlies it.  If I do that, I turn my sympathy into mere tribalism, on which basis I have no basis to reject the views of those who delighted in 9/11, or who have no sympathy for the Parisians.  Paris deserves better than that, and so do the Syrians.

On that basis I also reject the view that Paris shows we should not provide shelter to Syrian refugees.  On the contrary, while it may show a need to upgrade security measures, our common sympathy for human kind means that Paris brings home to us the prolonged tragedy of the Syrian war, and should increase our sympathy for its victims, and our willingness to give them a place of refuge from that war.

The civilian death toll
Syrian Government 793
Russian Forces 263
Kurdish Forces 10
Al Nusra 1
Armed Opposition 45
Unidentified Groups 50
Total  1215