Suicide attacks in Brussels: my thoughts

Considering that I’ll be travelling to Belgium via a Dutch land border in about two weeks, I can’t help but express how I’m feeling right now in regards to the ISIL-claimed terrorist attacks in Brussels’ Zaventem airport as well as the Maelbeek metro station. First and foremost, it must be acknowledged as, once again, a cowardly atrocity committed by a collective of weak, morally aimless individuals. Prepare for a ramble, please pardon the questionable cohesion.

As a person who will be travelling the region soon, my initial reaction was a small bout of fear. It’s not my home but the knowledge of my imminent presence where suicide bombs just exploded caused my heart to sink in my chest. Then I reminded myself that this could happen anywhere, at any time, and that the same people who have violated Belgium have threatened and encouraged that same violation upon Canadians and whoever else opposes their ideas and their methods of imposing them. Nowhere in the world is completely safe from this and that’s a reality we all need to face.

What happened to the people of Brussels is horrible, as is what happened to the people of Paris in November. But there are people, a lot more people, going through this on a regular basis all over the world, in regions that receive little to no coverage of the atrocities that they face. From a Western media perspective, most deadly explosions that occur in the Middle East are worthy of a plain text sentence, at most. There is a persisting mentality on the part of North Americans that the value of the unseen and misunderstood individual somewhere else is less than our inherent value. I’ve witnessed it first hand. I’ve heard Canadians refer to Syrians and other Arabic people as backwards savages with a “Stone Age” culture. It’s truly embarrassing.

Election season in America is good for about one thing, in my opinion: it makes people more comfortable revealing who they really are and what they really think because there is someone in the public eye who they feel, at least partially, represents them. That representative serves as a lightning rod for the criticism that the everyday individual faces for their political leaning. A lot of Canadians are weighing in on the American presidential election as well, and thus contributing to the endless opinions on the state of just about everything. People are currently feeling more comfortable saying exactly how they feel about issues that would more ordinarily be considered controversial. Thanks to the polarizing nature of Donald Trump, my social media is saturated with these personal and political revelations. It reminds me of why the news media pays so much attention to European and North American suffering, and so much less so to the suffering of those in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia. I think it’s more that we expect bad things to happen elsewhere, not in our backyards where, when you look out the window, all is fine and dandy (not to say that there aren’t neighbourhoods in Canadian or American cities where things are rough). But nevertheless, there seems to be more openness when it comes to sharing overtly racist or xenophobic thoughts, whether in person or through social media.

A more pessimistic viewpoint is that a large group of Westerners don’t give a damn about what happens to people who aren’t a part of our culture. I don’t think this is inherently a Western issue, I think it’s a human issue. We’re more connected as a species than we’ve ever been, despite cultural and geographical differences, but we still have a long way to go. I care about what happened in Brussels on Tuesday, and I care about what happened in Paris in November, and I care whether or not a Canadian suffers for being a Canadian, for holding the kind of values that we prize over here in the West.

But human suffering is human suffering. We shouldn’t have to go out of our way to learn of an atrocity in the Central African Republic, or injustices certain communities in Russia face, or how contaminated drinking water is affecting the health of rural Columbians. I think our media ought to integrate these kinds of stories into the mainstream more than they do. We can’t discount the humanity of a culture because we aren’t used to that culture. Culture is a human creation; each and every culture is thus flawed. We need to understand that despite how horrible the attacks in Brussels are that people all over the world face the same or worse on a disturbingly regular basis and we need to extend our thoughts and positivity towards them on an equally regular basis, regardless of where they come from. I encourage cultural criticism because how else are we supposed to get better at anything? What I don’t support is the outright rejection of one culture in order to “preserve” another. We’re going to be just fine over here in the Western world. Read a history book, on anywhere in the world. We’ve never been better off. A massive percentage of humanity can log onto the internet and learn whatever we want to learn. We ought not be afraid of anything, in my opinion.

It’s time we recognized that we are all one species, one race of humans. Outright cultural rejection and a lack of empathy towards one another hurts all of us. And don’t be afraid to go out and experience the world…don’t be afraid to travel. I’m going to Europe at a time when Europe is under attack. Pardon my French, but fuck ISIS. I have a planet to explore.

45 thoughts on “Suicide attacks in Brussels: my thoughts

  1. I agree with you in many points. Especially on the role of social media. After the attack in Paris and Brussel the hashtag #prayforparis and #prayforbrussel started trending. Of course people want to show that they want to give people over there strength, but what is with he people in Syria and Arabia? There is no hashtag for them, although there such attacks happen daily.
    And I also think that these attacks can happen everywhere and just can be prevented when people start to work together and not against each other. I hope that this will be realized soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These attacks can definitely happen anywhere, and they happen more regularly in places other than North America and Europe. I think young people in the Western world would be less recruitable by extremists if we more often showed solidarity with cultures beyond our own. And many of us do do that, just not yet enough in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I believe this problem starts early in school. There we just learn something about our culture and history, what it is, what worked out, what changed through the years. But sadly we don’t learn a lot about other cultures, what the people do there, what there history is and how this affects their lifestyle today.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely agree, especially about apathy amongst many Westerners. I deleted my FB account last year because I could no longer deal with seeing racism and prejudice expressed on such a scale, by people I thought I knew. Only when we start wanting a genuine dialogue with those feeling disillusioned with the West, will things likely improve. That isn’t going to happen if we continue selling arms to different factions, and bombing the hell out of certain countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The prejudice certainly exists, I wouldn’t call it widespread. It’s just a very vocal group, regardless of numbers. I’m lucky, I grew up in a very open and accepting family for the most part and a lot of us are like that as well. A huge part of why I even do this blog is to show more people how similar we all are, in a lot more ways than people realize, despite geographical and cultural differences.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This was probably the best post from you I have read in long time! Definitely going to share with my friends! You have put really good points here, I especially like the sentences: We’re going to be just fine over here in the Western world. Read a history book, on anywhere in the world. We’ve never been better off. A massive percentage of humanity can log onto the internet and learn whatever we want to learn.

    Really I am going to put this post’s adress into my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We need a degree of education about other cultures so we can celebrate our differences instead of fearing them.Most people don’t realise that more people in Syria and places like that are afraid of ISIL than support them.We have to get the Arab nations to attack ISIL where it can and support the Kurds who are fighting them. We must stop weapons from going to those regions and enriching those who sell them at the expense of human life.
    Assad has committed crimes against his own people so we must ask Russia to stop bombing the opposition in support of his regime. He had lost the right to rule.
    Religion and politics don’t work together well so though the people of that area may be Muslim and be happy to worship Allah (peace be upon his name) Islam should be their religion not their ruler and women should have equal right to enjoy the benefits of education that men have.
    The people of the West must help in the reconstruction of homes for the people of the region to return to. They are our family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree to some extent, they have a great deal of control. But buyers control markets more than we realize. If enough people demand something and are willing to pay for it via time and/or money, someone is going to provide it for us. More of us need to WANT to see things other than “mainstream” news and reality TV.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know, I don’t know if it’s because we “want” it – as whether we will click on it or just turn it on out of morbid curiosity. In the end, manipulated for corporate profit. We have to hold our own selves accountable for what we consume. You’re right.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I’m going to Europe myself next month and I was also afraid, still am, but like you I have convinced myself that I cannot let fear control me, it is dangerous even to just stay inside your house, there is always something you can die from. I hate that the world has become such a fearful place and that I don’t feel safe anymore, but as you say, there are parts of the world where people have lived like this for generations. Thank you for the encouragement! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well said. The same thing actually happens in Indonesia, and probably elsewhere in the world, where people can resonate more to events occurring in places closer to home, or in societies people can relate to. And that’s how the media industry works; they feed people with what they care about. And to change this is we have to care more about what is happening all around the world, because we are now more connected than ever. And to care more, we need to travel and explore the world with an open mind and heart. Then we’ll start to feel more toward others.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your points are all, sadly, true. I agree that consumers of news drive the coverage; unless something directly affects us North Americans, we (broadly speaking) don’t care about it. Remember when Ebola was all over the news AFTER someone brought it into the U.S.? THEN we needed to cover it exhaustively, but when it was “only” killing West Africans, it was a few hidden lines deep in the papers. As for social media, I had to stop looking at Facebook and/or block some people’s posts since the election cycle began; it is shocking how many people I know have been spewing hate and intolerance. Finally, I agree that we cannot stop traveling and writing about different places and cultures; if we curtail our activities out of fear, we let the bad guys win.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well said words and very true words. They, whoever is holding the bomb at the time, in whatever country, wants us to be fearful and to isolate us from other countries because of that fear. If this sounds familiar it is the usual way of a psychopath when alienating their victims. I hate what is happening, I always say to people what about the Syrians who are still living in their own country, they face death and starvation every day, how would you cope with that. We should all be one and show the bombers and terrorists a united front, flip em the bird and laugh at them. Sorry got a bit ranty myself there. Hope it all made sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So, I have been reading your thoughts. They are wise and refreshing, and I agree with you in most of them. We are so alike…all of us. And we do not know what will happen to us after this life – maybe we will arrive in the middle of a space opera? One thing is for sure – we have to support and help each other to survive this turbulent life. You are so right. And, you are so right about many things – we cannot let the terrorists win, can we. But, how do we repair the apathy and the don’t -give- a- damn forces? You are travelling and thinking, writing and discussing. I work with young people aged 16-19, and I meet many wonderful youngsters who are energetic and believe in life and that this planet will survive. I do not know where they get it from, but one way is your way – and one of the most important ingredients is travelling and meeting all those people you only see in media…the starving, the homeless, the poor, the beggars – and the luckier ones, in other countries and other nationalities. You cannot read about them in a book or in media…and understand. You have to meet them face-to face. In person. They are you and you are them.
    Thank you for doing this blogging – and welcome to Sweden in April – see the beech forests and hear the birds sing of joy and the ground covered in white flowers. Happy travels. Take care. You have a good heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the rich comment. I’m glad you can see my perspective and I think it’s great you work with youthful individuals. I think travelling should be a must for all those can afford it – economically and temporally. The more different kinds of people we have the opportunity to meet, all realms and all strata, the more we do wind up giving a damn about others, including the unseen and unheard. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me. Looking forward to Europe (3 days!) and will definitely look into these beech forests!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Very well said, Darcy. Fear, Hatred and No respect for humanity are all the reasons why they are terrorizing places by places. I agree on you, let us not be afraid with them and show them we can continue living in spite there evil acts. Careful and have a safe travel my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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