As the ripples from the terrible events in Paris fan out across the world, what is the primary point of public debate and outrage?
Is it how, in this day and age, such violence could ever be an option for anyone anywhere regardless of their circumstances?
Is it the sickness that pervades civilization that makes terrorism possible in countries near and far?
Nope. Not even close.
It’s whether or not we should, or have, pasted a trio of colors (blue, white, red) onto our Facebook profile pictures.
All over the internet this weekend, I saw memes, articles and comments about this app to post the Tricolore flag, which spurred reactions from outrage to comedy, and completely (horrifically) vastly outnumbered any real content about what actually happened to inspire it in the first place.
It was the same reaction to the Starbucks cup.
It seems like people are willing to take it to the streets with flaming pitchforks and battle axes if a coffee cup doesn’t say “Merry Christmas”, but it doesn’t concern them in the least that this same cup, regardless of what’s written on it, is contributing to the destruction of our planet.
What the h*ll is going on here?
When did we become more concerned about the symbols of an issue than the issue itself?
Listen, I get it. It’s a lot easier to get worked up about the relative merits of putting a filter on a picture versus not, or about whether a disposable cup happens to seem festive or bah humbug, but can we please try and remember what is actually important?
Let’s try talking about the people who are grieving today, and about why and how extremism exists.
Let’s put compassion in the forefront of our minds, and remember that hate begets hate, and that we are not powerless as long as we choose light and love in our own lives.
Let’s open our hearts and feel everything; the pain, the joy, the frustration of our deeply flawed species.
Let’s stop worrying about what’s written on about-to-be-in-a-landfill containers and steep a cup of tea in a treasured mug at home instead.
It is scary to be alive and to be a part of the human race. So scary that we sometimes choose to make mountains out of molehills because the real mountains seem so impassable.
But make no mistake, getting our knickers in a twist over relatively minor issues doesn’t help anyone get anywhere close to the mountaintop. If anything, it distracts us from the path, and sends us wandering in endlessly repeating loops that lead nowhere at all.
If we really want to take a stand, we need to stop wasting time, energy and airspace on trivialities. It is a sign of our vast first world privilege that we are more concerned about apps and cups than about murder and the destruction of our beautiful planet.
It’s time to wake up and burst the bubble. Let’s focus on the stuff that really matters.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Juan Antonio F. Segal/Flickr