Wise words

Viral poem and letter focus attention on global suffering

Blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh. (Facebook)

New Delhi blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh posted a poem to social media in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, that struck a chord around the world and soon went viral.

“I woke this morning deeply disturbed by the news from ‪#‎Paris‬, but more amazed by the attention it received on social media,” she wrote on Facebook. “I understand Paris is a beloved and familiar space for a lot of people, but it troubled me that ‪#‎Beirut‬, a city my father grew up in, had received so little attention after the horrific bombings two days earlier. It also troubled me that ‪#‎Baghdad‬, a place I have absolutely no connection with, received even less attention after the senseless bombing that took place there last week. Worst of all, I found the understanding of the refugee crisis skewed and simplistic.”

This was her response:

The Facebook post has since been shared more than 150,000 times, and the poem has also gone viral on Instagram and Twitter. 

“It’s time to pray for humanity. It is time to make all places beloved. It’s time to pray for the world,” writes Parikh.

“I won’t be changing my Facebook profile picture”

Those sentiments, of concern for humanity in general, were echoed in a Letter to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, published in Australia on Monday, that has been shared on Facebook more than 48,000 times.  In it, Clair Duffy, an international human rights lawyer and self-described Francophile, explains why she won’t be changing her Facebook profile picture to the colors of the French flag.

“Last year, before returning to Australia following several years working overseas on atrocity crimes, I walked 1100 kilometres across France, soaking up everything French culture had on offer. On my long walk, I contemplated the decade of atrocity-related work I’d been engaged in while living in Africa, Asia, and Europe,” wrote Duffy.

“But I won’t be changing my Facebook profile picture to superimpose the translucent tricolore even though I am sick to the pit of my stomach about the atrocities committed in Paris a couple of nights ago. And I won’t be singing La Marseillaise as a demonstration of solidarity with the French people.

“That’s because I believe the answer to the problems facing our world lies beyond notions of nationalism, and so-called national identity. Beyond notions of allies and enemies. Beyond symbols representing bloodshed on the battlefield, imperial conquest, and lines drawn on maps.

“It’s also because, if every day I was to change my Facebook profile picture into the translucent flag of the countries where people had died atrocious deaths that day — atrocious, unnecessary deaths by bullets, bombs and chemical weapons, as well as economic and environmental crimes we are yet to name—it would represent all the colours of the rainbow. From Syria to Lebanon, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Sri Lanka and North Korea; from Burundi to Burma and Mexico. For the children shot dead in American classrooms, and the women killed by their partners in Australia. And for the asylum seekers drowning in droves as they try to reach safer shores.

“And, of course, for France.”

Read more at Huffington Post and The Sydney Morning Herald.


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