The Blog

When Did We All Get So Self-Righteous About Tragedy?

When did we all get so self-righteous about tragedy? We should not forgot what happened in Lebanon the night before the Paris attacks, but there is no ranking system for innocent lives lost and there is no limit to the compassion we can feel. Immediately following the attacks we saw the best of humanity. An outpouring of support to show that we would stand together in the face of these barbaric acts.

However, there appears to be a worrying growth of self-righteousness on social media. Many have made posts or comments which directly or indirectly accuse those who posted something about Paris of not caring about Lebanon. This is just mean-spirited and self-aggrandising.

I have friends in both Paris and Beirut. Are you seriously suggesting that my concern for my Lebanese friends was diminished because I chose to place a tricolore on my profile picture and not the flag of Lebanon?

Lebanon has many legitimate reasons to feel overlooked in all of this. The media focus has been on Paris. There are a multitude of reasons why. Whether geographically or culturally there is no escaping that Paris is closer to our own. So quite naturally the impact is stronger when it is so close to home. South America, for example, get virtually no coverage at all from the British media.

There is also the problem of history. Lebanon by its very geography has found itself in the middle of a many a conflict. Sadly bombs going off in Lebanon has not been a rare event. Does this mean it is right to accuse us all of thinking Arab lives mean less because Paris gets more coverage? Well, you don't have to look too hard to find that many victims in Paris were also of Arabic descent.

The interesting thing for me is those who are doing the accusing. From the Lebanese people I have spoken to, I have heard nothing but compassion for Paris. A shared pain that has visited both their countries. The majority of accusatory articles and posts appear to have emanated from our own shores.

I have read far more from Europeans chastising Europeans not to believe that ALL muslims are terrorists, than I have anyone actually expressing that view. Added to that is the constant mention of our ill-advised military interventions. This happens in the coverage of serial killers too. The victims are allowed to become little more than a footnote in someone else's narrative. Be in no doubt we are helping the chosen narrative of ISIS by focusing on Paris versus Lebanon coverage, as if it were some justification for their aggrievance against the West.

As we search for reason as to what makes something like this happen there appears to be a perverse version of Stockholm Syndrome taking place. With otherwise rational people happy to leap to the conclusion that we are somehow to blame.

Nothing warrants the murdering of innocent people.


So if you want to be angry at something try being angry at ISIS.