On Friday evening, after DH and I finished cleaning the house (my mom demands a clean house when she is staying over to pet sit), I opened my Facebook to see that the two friends I had made while in Paris had noted their status as “safe” from the Paris Terror Attacks.
I immediately felt a cold chill run down my spine and tried to google the news, checked on Twitter and finally remember I have cable again and turned on the TV.
The news said then that there were 153 dead, 300+ injured in organized attacks that happened one after the other. I saw the dazed look on people’s faces, running around for shelter, the broken glass at the restaurant, the feed of the bomb that could be heard during the football game and the startled football players, the rushing concert goers covered in blood. The people exiting the football stadium singing La Marseillaise made my eyes tear up and my heart ache.
I saw the people on Facebook immediately praying for Paris, praying for the French, praying for the families of the victims, pissed at ISIS, pissed off a terror, scared of what was to come next.
I also saw a lot of my Venezuelans friends saying “I feel bad for Paris, but, what about our dead?” Or “I see a lot of people here giving a damn about Paris but who cares about what happens in Venezuela?” Or “153 dead? We get more than that every day in the Capital and who is mourning us?” “I see a bunch of sheep changing their Facebook profile to the French flag, how about you care about your own fucking country first?”
I wasn’t aware that the soul had a limited supply of compassion. I wasn’t aware that we were unable to hurt for your own country and hurt for the French, and for Japan, and Lebanon and Venezuela and the people of Syria who are trapped by this regime and living an every-day hell. I wasn’t aware that you could only care for your own and fuck everyone else.
I was so disappointed, so hurt, so flabbergasted, so naive. Maybe it’s easy for me to feel disappointed by my friend’s feelings while they battle the rampant violence, danger, hunger and hopelessness in Venezuela while I sit cozily here in the U.S.A. Maybe it’s unfair that I expect more from people who have spent the last 20 years in a rapidly deteriorating country that they no longer recognize as their own. Maybe it’s unfair to expect them to think outside their own daily struggles and spare some thought, some hurt, some pity and compassion, some empathy, some feeling for their fellow men outside their own country.
As I saw them spewing even more pettiness and anger and hatred I wanted to argue with them but what can I say? When they are suffering and I am not? But knowing that, doesn’t stop me from feeling that the attitude of ‘what about us’ it’s part of the problem, that culture of me first, that way of living where you cannot spare a thought for something that doesn’t affect you, THAT it’s part of the problem. When all you care is about what affects you directly then we can’t move forward together.
I mourn for the news of Venezuela’s deaths. I mourn by how callous and used to the violence the country I called home, has gotten used to. I mourn for the friends who had died, for the ones who had been kidnapped, for the ones who cannot find milk for their babies, or diapers, or shampoo. Every time I walk into Publix and see Harina P.A.N. I mourn for the fact that it’s a Venezuelan product in the U.S. that Venezuelans can’t find in their supermarket.
I also mourn for the French, don’t we all have enough room in our hearts to care for more than one cause? I saw the pictures of some of the victims in Paris, so young, so happy in their Instagram shots, so handsome and pretty some of them were, how goofy others. I saw their faces and I mourn them too, as I mourn the couple of sisters who died at the restaurant. I imagine my own sister and myself going through that and it breaks my heart for the family of those two women.
Can’t we care for them and care for ours as well? I am so angry and sad at the many friends who see empathy for others and caring for what happened in Paris as a weakness, or indifference to the plights of Venezuela.
Violence breeds violence and contempt and indifference, I think maybe that’s why my friends said the things they said, maybe that’s why they have turned into people who can see someone else’s pain and not think “I am sorry this is happening to you” but instead think “Why should I care about you? What about my pain?”
Some of my friends were also condemning the world for not intervening in the situation in Venezuela and fixing it. I am no politician but I am not sure what that person expected, a war? A US invasion? A foreign solution?
I don’t know, but it worries me that it will change the rhetoric from indifference towards what’s happening to the outside world to hatred for the outside world.
I wish they would understand that apathy towards their fellow men it’s not going to fix the situation in Venezuela.
Apathy fixes nothing. Caring, does.