The photograph of a blood stained white t-shirt told us the whole story without one word. Isobel Bowdery's harrowing and graphic account, of how her Friday night watching a band with her boyfriend turned into a living nightmare, has been seen by over 2.8 million users all over the world.
It resonates because that white t shirt could've been mine. It could've been yours. Next time, it could be any of us.
Posts like Isobel's strike a chord. Posts like Isobel's spark very human reactions. Acts of empathy, bravery and kindness. Emotions such as anger, grief and distress. They can also feed fear and leave us feeling divided. But we need to react to these inhumane attacks in the most powerful way we can: together.
Paris, Syria, Beirut... the world is bleeding. Terrorists are not specifically attacking these countries. Every seemingly random attack is directly aimed at our liberty and our united front to protect it. The best we can do in situations like this is to not show fear. Football matches should go ahead, people must get on the tubes tomorrow morning and life shall go on. Otherwise we're letting terror win. All of a sudden the saying Keep Calm and Carry On resonates.
This is no time for judgement, no time for scoring political points and certainly no time to harbour hatred. Over the next few days, weeks and months, political figures will use the events in Paris to push their agendas. Donald Trump has already blamed firearm restrictions for the casualties. Theresa May is expected to use this horrific attack as justification for the controversial 'snoopers charter'. UKIP are already using the deaths of over 100 innocent people as ammunition for their anti-immigration stance, with one even calling for all mosques in the UK to be closed.
How can the answer to fighting violence and senselessness possibly be more hatred, violence and bloodshed? Surely we should fight hate with love, like so many others, my heart is broken and nothing but love is pouring out of it. The light that comes out of these dark events is the outpouring of support and empathy that resonates around the world. Rather than criticise those who hash tag things with #prayforparis or change their profile picture to have the French flag, just know we are all united in shock and grief. We must remember to keep our heads in times like this. The best way show solidarity with Paris?
We should all adopt Paris' 'Porte Ouverte' attitude and welcome ALL those suffering with open arms and open hearts, wherever they're from. If we did that across Europe (and the world) we'd have a chance at stamping out the hate. There's power in numbers. Remember #illridewithyou from Sydney? How about #jesuischarlie? Or #refugeeswelcome? These events may have had a higher profile in the media than the Kenyan attack in April or even the horrific scenes in Beirut just hours after Friday night's events in Paris. But these messages are for all.
We need to open our minds, hearts... and our arms. Making sweeping statements about people's religion won't stop terrorists, but merely increase prejudice. Shutting down the borders won't stop terrorists, but will leave millions to suffer. Giving more people guns won't stop terrorists, but merely increase more gun-related deaths and injuries. Criticising hash tags, press coverage and choice of profile pictures will not stop terrorists, but only divide us more.
Only if we all unite and say we are not afraid will we show our real power. It may be a naïve concept and there is no easy solution, if any. But by pouring out pure love we can make those who innocently get caught up in these conflicts every day; wherever they are, whoever they are, feel less alone. We need to harness our passion and anger and turn it into a state of mind, all the time. Porte Ouverte, Refugees Welcome, Not Afraid and I'll Ride With You should be our mottos for life, not just in the wake of disaster.
We may not be able to prevent another Paris, Kenya or Sydney, but with every blow our love for our fellow human beings can only grow stronger.Suggest a correction