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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Glittered Or Not, I Won't Grab A Woman's Body

"Instinct-driven animal" or not, touching a woman's body without her consent is not ok.

Just about two weeks ago, I engaged a fine, upstanding gentleman on Twitter in an example of just about everything wrong with victim-blaming rhetoric. His argument-initiating tweet a response to an event at a music festival on New Year’s Eve, an event in which a topless woman was captured on film being grabbed by an unknown man.

The event, Rhythm and Vines, is a multi-day music festival, during which attendees listen to bands and celebrate the turn of the year in a progressively free-spirited fashion. The fashion embraced by the assaulted woman was a variation of toplessness often referred to as “glitter tits,” a decorating of bare breasts with glitter and adhesive jewels.

Some common opinions of the fashion believe the fashion’s intent is to draw attention. The Twitter use I mention in this article’s opening is of that mindset, albeit a more vitriolic and sexist variety. Featured below is his opening tweet regarding the inappropriately touched young woman:

The Twitter user accuses the woman, Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller, of advertising, the admonishes her (or no one in particular, really) to not “complain when a customer comes by,” a despicable comment comparing the groping offender to a customer, presumably thinking he just wanted to sample the goods on display.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a highly sexual person as well, and I have reactions to the sight of an attractive woman. However, I’m fully capable of not conceding to any base-animal instincts.

Hell, I was around a dozen naked women a year ago, quite naked myself, in an artistic event which involved close, physical contact. I did not touch them without their consent. I certainly didn’t just snap my hand out to cop a feel of a bare breast.

Maybe it’s because the women around me weren’t teasing or tempting me. The victim-blaming twitter user would probably argue differently of my body-painted comrades. Speaking of the topless Anellow-Kitzmiller, he cited her for multiple things. Take a gander at the tweet below:

Anellow-Kitzmiller, he says, took a risk with the real world by intentionally tempting and teasing in her proximity. And since it was so obviously her intention, she should be held culpable for her actions.

Come to think about it, I think that the woman in my yoga class the other night, the one whose butt I touched because it looked finer than two Christmas hams on a platter, should be held accountable, too. I mean, seriously, I just couldn’t resist her showing off the goods in those tight yoga pants!

Let’s be real. I didn’t really touch anyone. There was a handful of attractive ladies in that yoga class, but I didn’t touch them. Why didn’t I touch them? Maybe the reason is that I’m not some knuckle-dragging animal whose instincts are ruled by his reproductive appendage!

Besides, I was dying. When the downward facing dog is kicking your arse so thoroughly that the sweat is burning your eyes with righteous anger, I tend not to think of anything other than my own yogic suffering. Touching someone else was, I assure you, the furthest thing from my mind.

Of course, the guy’s not letting up. He’s even willing to believe that “no one should expect everyone to be able" to control their instincts. He’s right, in a manner of speaking. I don’t expect animals to control their instincts.

If you read this tweet in the right (or wrong) frame of mind, it’s almost like he’s legitimizing rape. Legitimizing might be the wrong word, but his tweet has a very rapey vibe, doesn’t it? I mean, he’s arguing to “hold HER responsible for HER behavior,” which is a classic example of redirecting blame to the victim.

Come to think about, that girl I thought of assaulting way back when I’d like to give her a piece of my mind. She should have known I have a Chuck Taylor fetish and she even smelled of Warm Vanilla Sugar (from Bath & Body Works). Think that would be a viable defense in court? Sure as hell hope not because then you’d be like this guy.

And still, he carries on without ever placing blame where it belongs, on the guy who grabbed the bedazzled breast. Other Twitter users and I tried to get him to understand that maybe she just wanted to be comfortable. Maybe she wanted to celebrate her right to be topless wherever a man can also be topless. Maybe she did want to provoke someone into touching her, to start a fire, if you will, but it still doesn’t give a man to march up to some random woman and touch her.

I sometimes find my body betraying me. My own physiology reacts to visual stimuli, and carnal desire takes root. I’ll admit that I even experience “want.” I want something, but rather than acting out on my urges, I keep my hands to myself. I realize that without an invitation, without consent, the only course of action available to me is to keep my hands to myself. I am not an animal, after all.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube (iO Trends)

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Freedom In Stillness

I couldn’t imagine living without such a thing.

Is there freedom in stillness? I often ask myself this as I observe my life from the outside looking in. I can see a woman of medium stature watching over an energizer bunny of a child while the rest of the world around them continues in circles of constant repetition. For the past four years, I did not think that I would be here right now. The 18-year-old me would probably gawk openly at me for creating such a life. “What happened to medical school? Remember the peace corps? Traveling?” She would say to me with a snarky witticism to which I would kindly reply “That was then, and this is now.”

I find myself writing about this topic quite a bit, and I believe it is because I come into contact with it so often. One of the biggest questions I hear from others and even find myself thinking is: Are you truly free being where you are in your life? Like, what does that even mean? Sure, I can go grab a bite to eat with my sister or run to the store to grab a pint of ice cream. Given, I now have to do those things on an adjusted schedule. No, I can’t just do whatever I want when I want it. Everything has a schedule, and everything has a plan. Remember when your mom used to say everything has its own place during clean up time? Yeah, that is my life. Times and seasons all arranged to fit into a frame that works best for our little family are what create the cobblestone path into my soul.

I think that is what confuses people the most when I say that I believe I feel free. How could you be free with so many obligations and constraints? Well, if you look at it that way, then no. I am not free at all. If you take it from a negative perspective, you will find yourself interpreting my life as one that commonly befalls women who are married with children: structured and settled. For a while, I still had this thought process, and at times I still do, but something has changed. There is a freedom in stillness. There is a freedom in organization and management. You are probably wondering what I mean when I say this. I simply want you to know that there is something about stability and structure that is freeing. Not having to worry about meals or making rent, which is a blessing, is a freedom that a lot of people in this world do not have.

There is something to be said for knowing how the day may go, and also being okay with the fact that it may not always go the way it was planned. There is something about freedom that is entwined with stillness because there in the midst of it all is some relief. It is necessary and oh so welcome in my life. I couldn’t imagine living without such a thing.

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