That Which We Attack

When you read of who was killed in Paris on Friday, take note that it was not simply white French who died, nor simply Christians. They were Americans, Chileans, Tunisians, Moroccans, Portuguese, Belgians, Englishmen, Spaniards, Romanians, Italians and, perhaps, more to be named. Some were likely Christian, others Muslim, perhaps some were Jewish, or atheist. Perhaps I shouldn't presume what these people believed. Perhaps some never identified with any religion. 

Don't think this was an attack on Christians, nor on Europeans, nor the West, nor non-Muslims, and don't think that by bearing sympathy for the victims' families we are ignoring the rest of the world, that we are ignorant, that we are racist or that we are biased. It was the world and humanity that was attacked, just as it is the world that is attacked when gunships tear up operating rooms where doctors from around the world perform surgeries, as it is the world that is attacked when gunmen shoot up universities and shopping malls, and as it is when robotic aircraft operated from subdivisions in Nevada assault weddings in Yemen.

It is the world that is attacked when airliners above the Ukraine and Egypt are shot down, and it is the world that is attacked when jets drop bombs on rebels in one country in the name of attacking terrorists in a different one. It is the world that is attacked when fanatics fire rockets into neighborhoods or blow themselves up on buses, just as it is the world that is attacked when militaries bulldoze homes and massacre refugee camps. It is the world that is attacked when men are forced to march starving through jungles and women are raped just before they're lined up and shot, just as it is the world that is attacked when atoms are split over a city. It is the world that is attacked when families are sent to gas champers for the crime of occupying what someone else has declared their living space, and it is the world that is attacked when we ignite entire cities as we seek vengeance.

It is the world that is attacked when a husband shoots his wife and it is the world that is attacked when the state assumes it can stop killing by strapping that man to a gurney and injecting him with lethal chemicals. It is the world that is attacked when white supremacists fire upon parishioners in a church and when police shoot men for the color of their skin and slam young girls onto classroom floors, just as it is the world that is attacked when a criminal shoots the men and women sent to protect their neighbors and families.

We can only understand this world in which we live through our human eyes, and when it is attacked, it is humanity that is attacked. Borders are imaginary lines we draw to determine who is worthy of our protection and camaraderie and who is, ultimately, less-than. Religions are products of our minds constructed to make sense of all this chaos and to justify this killing. When one of us crosses these imaginary lines and leans on these systems, we simply ignore the fact that it is us that we are attacking.

We are the victims and the perpetrators.