In The Face Of Terrorism: What Can You Do?

In The Face Of Terrorism: What Can You Do?

It's no longer a matter of "if" our country is next, but "when."

On Tuesday, three explosions barreled through Brussels, Belgium, home to NATO headquarters. Two explosions occurred at the Brussels Zaventem Airport, the other in a subway station in the district of Maalbeek. The explosions claimed the lives of at least 30 people and wounded approximately 230 others.

ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack and a manhunt has been launched to locate the individual on the right of this screen-capped shot of the airport footage, as he was said to have left his belongings and fled only moments before the explosions occurred.

The event is suspected to be a revenge plot for last week's capture of Europe's most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, one of 10 suspects involved in the Paris attack in November of last year and the last one still alive.

While the world has expressed their condolences to the city of Brussels and the country of Belgium as a whole, it is the people of France that have stepped forward to convey their empathy to the country. It was only a few months back that ISIS launched similar attacks on Paris, where 130 innocent people were killed.

French cartoonist Jean Plantureux, better known by his pen name Plantu, drew an emotional cartoon for French newspaper Le Monde to express the country's ongoing support and condolences during the country's time of mourning.

Similarly to how landmarks around the world lit up in French colors following the Paris attack, the Eiffel Tower now lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag following the attacks on Brussels.

While these events are certainly tragic, they are not the only events that ISIS has claimed responsibility for.

In the few years since the existence of ISIS was confirmed, there have been a whopping 75 attacks conducted or inspired by the terrorist group across the globe, resulting in the casualties of 1,280 people.

Numerous threats have circulated the web regarding future attacks, leaving the world in a state of anxiety and high alert. Security has increased in airports and other large public areas around the world as a result. Politicians in the U.S. are using tragic events like these to try and amplify their presidential campaigns, to convince the citizens of America that they will be protected under their tutelege.

But what can we do? What can we as citizens do when tragedy like this strikes us?

Politicians say that we can be prepared, that we can be armed and ready to take on whoever threatens us. And maybe to some extent, that's true. But are we as a nation ever truly ready for something like this? Are we ready to deal with the casualties and the destruction that these events bring forth?

Criminals and terrorists do not have a set appearance. Despite what many think, there is not one race or religion or gender or any set personal attribute that can always, without a shadow of a doubt, predict who will be the perpetrator behind an attack.

We may not always be ready, but we can still be prepared.

We may not be able to prevent all casualties, but we can take steps to lessen the number of the deceased.

So stay alert, be prepared, but do not forget that terrorism does not have a face, nor a name. It only has destruction.

Be safe, and #PrayForTheWorld.

Cover Image Credit: New Straits Times Online

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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