Paris Isn’t Just a Far Away Place

Why This Matters | laurelle | November 15, 2015

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By Laurelle Byrne-Cody

As Americans we are familiar with days of abomination, 9-11, Pearl Harbor, etc. We are accustomed to pain and we empathize when others feel a similar hurt. Friday November 13th is truly a day that will live on in infamy. After a series of terrorist attacks in six different areas of the city, Paris found itself not as a common symbol of love, but instead hate. With at least 129 people killed and 352 injured (99 of whom are in critical condition) this attack comes as the most deadly attack in Europe since 2004.

With 243 students studying abroad in the past year and a significant population of foreign students, this is an eye-opening event. While Paris is thousands of miles away these horrid events certainly hit close to home. These people who were killed and injured: concert go-ers, restaurant and bar go-ers, and those in attendance of Soccer game. How many students on campus can say that they have done any of these? Be it in the past year, month, or even week? These people weren’t bad people, they weren’t criminals; they were just people suffering from retaliation for conflicts happening in a place that is far far away. How is this fair? How is this justified?

The purpose of this article isn’t to instill fear in readers. It’s not intended to keep you from going to Mex on Thursday or going to a Bills game in the upcoming weeks, but instead to provoke thought. In reflection of these events I have come to realize that I, like many of my peers, take my life for granted.

College Students think that they know pain, grief, sadness… and to an extent we do. It’s not easy taking Orgo, it’s not easy being hundreds of miles from home, and it’s certainly not easy to have your heart broken. But in each of these tough times we may stumble through the potential for a blessing is still there. No matter your religion or personal beliefs it’s hard to find this blessing in death or loss.

This attack didn’t just affect the people it harmed. The pain of Paris doesn’t stop at the physical pain of those injured. It spreads to their families who won’t have them around for the holidays, the bar owner who fears for his customers and employees every Friday night, and the trepidation of many Parisians who have to be strong in these hard times. These events affect families and local economies as much as foreign policy on a broader scale.

In America, other countries too, our support is shown through a change of a profile picture filter or a tweet. Thoughtful, but how effective is this? Our country is still filled with hate and a failure to appreciate the fruits of each day. No matter your color, race or ethnicity, we on a college campus are guilty of getting caught up in ourselves (as we should sometimes we are all amazing) but we lose sight of perspective all too often.

In the wake of these attacks I hope to take a different approach. I hope to not be feared by hate, but to be empowered by love. I challenge you to do the same. We can’t change the path of those who will hurt us, but we can control our path. We can wake up every day thankful for it and carry ourselves throughout with a radiance of love. We cannot dwell on pain but instead we must feed on the daily promise of potential victory.