The Numbing Power of Terrorism

The Numbing Power of Terrorism

We Need Conversation
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Tuesday, March 22: public outcry and global attention for the Brussels attacks.

Saturday, March 26: growing silence and a return to normal life. Five days and current atrocities have already faded from memory. Five days and it seems like the world is ready for the next strike. It is this developing trend in the aftermath of terrorist activity that has consistently occurred over the past several years. Most tragedies, like those in Turkey and Nigeria, go unnoticed by international media. Events that are lucky enough to gain world attention, like that of Brussels, hold interest for a short time and are quickly added to the growing list of terrorist attacks around the globe. These horrors are the temporary topics of daily conversation before they are lost with passing time. Are we becoming numb to terrorism? Are we beginning to lose the value of human life due to the mass familiarization with death?

As a college student, I have taken a variety of classes during my first year in the hope of expanding my world view. Is that not the reason for these institutions? To provide us with a greater view of the world and the people within it. If this is true, then why have I not been exposed to more class discussions on the brutality facing our world? I understand that international conflicts may not be the focus of every class, but human life transcends all boundaries. Its value and discussion should not be limited to certain periods of the day or even left absent in certain classes, especially in times of tragedy. Even if we cannot directly involve ourselves with relief efforts in Brussels, Turkey, or the endless list that faces us, it is our human duty to at least talk about these issues.

Death is not an easy discussion, but how much harder it must be to suffer and not reach the view of others. Even if we do not understand these situations, we must talk about them to act as a helpline for those victimized. We cannot allow our daily lives to be absent of this discussion. Though we can go day to day without talking about these atrocities, the victims are engulfed by the constant danger that faces them. They cannot simply refuse to acknowledge what is going on because it is their lives that hang on the brink. They are in a difficult position to help themselves, and in many situations this option does not exist. These victims rely on outside help and this aid can only start with conversation.

If we remain silent, a variety of problems can occur. Either those who are victimized will suffer alone and remain unheard, or we will become increasingly numb to terrorist activity. If these events pass by our view like stock prices or sports, then they lose their impact on the world. It is this growing detachment from attacks across the globe that makes terrorism so dangerous. If these atrocities can occur without raising much opposition, then how do we expect them to stop? We must remain informed about these attacks so that we do not drift too far from the pain that inflicts our world everyday.

I do not believe this lack of conversation is limited to my classes or my specific institution. Silence is growing around the world and it seems that terrorism is becoming a normality. Why are attacks in the Middle East not headlines when they too are causing the same destruction of human life we see in Brussels? Are these events somehow secondary to those that occur closer to home? It is this growing discontinuity between the value of human life around the world that scares me. If we do not give the victims their due attention, then we are not equaling the value of human life. If we do not facilitate conversation, then we are allowing for the numbing power of terrorism to take hold.

Cover Image Credit: Jerusalem Prayer Team

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Dear America, We Can Step Forward As A Country If We Stop Believing That Only One Belief Is Valid

It's time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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Dear America,

2018 was a year of political strife and conflict. The left and the right fought constantly. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the tiniest mistakes, and there were only a small number of successful bipartisan deals. Politicians and citizens alike seemed more concerned with sticking to party platforms, even ones they truly didn't believe in, rather than compromising with the other side to improve our society.Yet all this name-calling and hatred — what does it do in the end? What does it accomplish?

We've only seen an increased polarization of American politics and an expanded hostility towards "the other side." We don't consider the well-being of each and every person in America and the bettering of our society, or the building of a stronger world for our children and grandchildren.

We spend so much time insulting each other's political beliefs that we forget probably the most important fact that links us all together: We are all human. We all share the same basic needs, the same struggles, the same moments of happiness and sadness.

And yet we are willing to put our similarities aside and only focus on our differences. We are willing to thrust ourselves into the deep anger and loathing that comes in attacking those different from us. We are willing to parry insults behind the safety of a phone screen and forget all about what makes us alike. And we are willing to gloss over the fact that we have more similarities than differences.

SEE ALSO: Dear Trump, Thanks For Transforming Me Into A Responsible, Educated Citizen

Yes, political beliefs make a person. Political beliefs define the values, ideas and thoughts of a person. But sometimes, we have to reach over those beliefs, as hard as that may be, and focus on the bigger picture at hand. What will insulting someone because of those beliefs do? It definitely won't change their views or make them see things from your point of view.

It's sad and frustrating that this endless fighting doesn't even occur between two countries or two governments or two nation-states. Instead, we see arguments and strife between two family members, two neighbors or even two strangers, all living in the same community and under the same government, all sharing more similarities than differences.

We need to stop focusing so much on singular ideas. We need to stop believing in the close-minded idea that only one thought is the best thought. And instead of wasting energy trying to change other's opinions, we need to use that energy and time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities.

These past few years have truly divided America. Let's make 2019 a year of unity, because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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