Lest we forget

I took my choc lab down the beach this morning. She loves to play with the other dogs and chase the ball while I talk to the ‘locals,’ a little community all their own.

Our sense of safety and security never occurred to us. We all waded our feet in the water and walked on the sandy beach, lapping up the warm sunshine that the morning had brought to us. How fortunate we all were? The photo that goes with this piece is of my choc lab, Kahlua. How lucky I am to have her? Her sense of living for the moment is ever-present.

Recent events have brought home to me my feeling of fortune and privilege. As we think of those loved ones left behind and those less fortunate who lost their lives in Paris on November 13th, let’s also save a thought for those innocent civilians in Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Chad, and other nations, who were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Liberal western democracies tend to empathise with liberal, western democracies. The attack in Paris at Charlie Hebdo’s office was seen as an attack on our very own freedom of speech. Our empathy was made clearer by the sense that Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine.

Yet around the same time over a hundred civilians were murdered in Baga, Nigeria, by Boko Haram, an Islamist terror group. The number of fatalities cannot be confirmed, some reporting as many as 2,000.

Reading up about Boko Haram and Nigeria’s troubles, there is good reason why terror attacks in liberal democracies gain more traction.

1. Access – freedom of movement in and around the attack(s) is easier to achieve
2. Familiarity with the fallen – the greater the ‘likeness’ between the fallen and the empathetic, the greater the empathy
3. Media coverage – the more we hear about something the greater its impact on our ‘sensibilities.’

There will be much said about what occurred in Paris. But let us not forget that (using Wikipedia as my guide), there have been 289 terror attacks up to November 13th, in 2015 alone.

These include:-

• A suicide bombing in Nigeria, October 2nd, killing 18
• A car bombing in Iraq, October 5th, killing 57
• Suicide bombings in Turkey, October 10th, killing 102
• Suicide bombings the same day, in Chad, killing 38
• A suicide bombing in Nigeria 4 days later, killing 42
• Bombings in Nigeria, October 23rd, killing 27
• A suicide bombing in Pakistan the same day, killing 22
• A suspected bombing in Egypt, October 31st, killing 224 (Metrojet Flight 9268)

So let’s value our freedom and fight for it at every turn. Let’s never take it for granted. Let’s realize that it isn’t given lightly and can easily be taken away. And let’s bring into our circle of empathy innocent civilians who so happen to live in societies that don’t yet have the privilege of being liberal, western, or democratic.

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