Terror that ripped through a night of normal activity in Paris Friday has left the feeling of a new world in its wake.
In a society more connected than ever, reports, posts and first-hand eyewitness accounts spread like wildfire through television, computers, and mobile devices. Social media was filled with outrage, shock, disbelief, despair, and sympathy. In the days following the attack, the onslaught of available
information left the world with a resounding sense of paranoia and the feeling that “this could happen to you.”
Terrorism by definition feeds on fear. It is important to fight for peace by recognizing the positive aspects of humanity and not the worst. It’s important to sift through the rumors, the violence, the threats, and seek out the heroes, the helping hands and the faces of peace and understanding in this new, dark reality.
On campus this weekend, student organizations quickly came together to remember victims of violence and push for peace throughout the world. On Twitter, immediately following the attacks, people began using the hashtag #PorteOuverte, meaning “open door” to offer safe havens for those fleeing areas plighted by violence. Firsthand stories of survivors staying strong for others and clinging to their lives in the face of violence began to surface and families shared heartfelt stories of loved ones fallen in the attacks.
Still, fear and paranoia continues to grip society. Understandably so, too. It would be careless to ignore threats from a legitimate terrorist group. But when the nature of our connected world feeds into fear, that’s a regression of American values.
When people share uninformed and untrue posts degrading people for their cultural or religious backgrounds, that’s completely unacceptable.
It’s like President Obama said in Manila on the refugee debate, “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate.”
The distrust of Americans or the reluctance to accept people as a result of fear is deplorable. The best way to stay strong and combat terror as a society is embrace the opposite: peace, helpfulness and acceptance.