What The World Needs Now

So, I was privately asked by a surprising number of people why I had not temporarily changed my Facebook profile picture in a show of support for Paris. I who am usually up on the latest Facebook fads to have not done so was surprising to them. They have a point, but this Facebook Paris profile thing is just one I could not do.

I’ve been to Paris, but even if I had never step foot in the city I still would wholeheartedly feel for what Paris is going through.  Just as I felt the outrage for London when they were bombed in 2005, often referred to as 7/7 – the date of the occurrence, just as I know both countries grieved with us here in the United States when 9/11 happened.  There is this overwhelming sense of helplessness when one is reading of such a tragedy from afar. After all what can the average Jane and Joe from so far away do right?  Granted, most of the world did not have social media, let alone the ability to easily change our profile pics on FB in 2001 or 2005, but today if we can’t really do anything else, the very least we can do, and it really is the very least, is change our profile picture to show our support for Paris right? Right.

When I noticed the changing profile pictures my very first thought was that’s nice.  Our hearts are in the right places, I do not make light of it.

I get it.

I really do.

Still, I could not help but ask myself the following – where were these near instantaneous profile pics apps of solidarity for

Where are the profile pic apps for any all of them?

A couple of months or so ago, here in the US, Facebookers were able to be “StraightOutta___” whatever they chose to be straight out of in honor/celebration of the release of the movie “Straight Outta Compton”.

A movie.

A simple movie about a rap group from the 80’s was worthy of being on our profile pictures, yet today is the 580th day since 273 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. 57 escaped and 219 are still missing.

Where’s their profile pic overlay app?

Some have tried to say that most of the above didn’t count because the countries have been in some form of contentious states for years, even decades now. But just because Paris is relatively brand new to this and is considered a safe place, are they more worthy than the Israeli and Palestinian who live with the threat of a bombing as a daily fact of life? Uh. no.  And please let it begin and end right here with why tragedies to brown faces get less news coverage and hold our attentions far shorter than tragedies to white faces.  I just can’t/won’t go there with that today for we are all hurting.

We cannot look at the events of Paris and not share in their grief. Nor should we ignore the horrors of one tragedy in order to acknowledge the horrors of another.  I have no qualms for the many Facebookers who have temporarily changed their profile pictures in solidarity of Paris. Again, because I understand it, I really do. I have changed my Facebook cover to better reflect the suffering seemingly everywhere, for I have no solutions or resolutions either.

It’s a jacked-up world we’re living in and the events in Paris and in Lebanon and in Nigeria… and… and… are already fading into the happier glow of the coming holidays, because it’s all we can do to hold to what little happiness can be found out here for us.

Let’s find it and try to hold on to it long past the times that go by with auld lang syne.


Slice of Life : Two Writing Teachers

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers


In all honesty, I really don’t know what to say, yet I feel I must say something…

The bombings happened moments after I left work for the day. I was underground waiting for a train when the first one went off. I knew nothing until my train rose above ground and my phone, along with several others, went crazy with the influx of activity. There is a certain amount of activity that happens on a normal day and then there is the activity when something major happens. As a social media person I can almost sense when it’s something bad before I pull out my phone to check. And when other cellphones were also going berserk, I knew I would not like it.

I have several friends and people I consider family who live if not necessarily in Boston proper, close enough that it gave me pause. Especially on a day like yesterday any where number of them could have been near, if not actively watching the marathon. I immediately checked Twitter and Facebook and had most of my initial worries quickly assuaged that they were safe. Others I had to text or email later on to check on them, but all my not-so-near and dear were accounted for. That left me with just the news and there was a ton of that.

I have been to Boston several times, almost all for party occasions, so my view of the City as a whole is a favorable one. It’s a backdrop to many really good memories for me. I’ve walked along Boylston Street where the explosions occurred, so it was a gut punch the first time I watched footage and recognized it. Broadcast news mostly repeated the same footage of the explosions itself. The internet, as always had them, beat. What struck me most is the one thing that can always be counted on when such events occur. Yes, we expect the police, the emergency service, Fire Departments and other first responders to be there and assist. That is their jobs to run toward the danger when nearly everyone else is running from it, and thank God / God bless them for it.

No, I am referring to The Unintentional Heroes.

The everyday men and women who did not run away, but ran to and stayed to help the hurt and injured until the professionals could take over and sometimes stayed to help again elsewhere afterward. Yes, the images that are going to be the defining ones of this are the images of Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat. Like so many others, he immediately jumped into the fray at the site of the first blast to assist. He came upon Mr. Bauman (no first name currently given), who had just lost his legs in the attack. No one, who has seen the instantly iconic photo, is going to quickly forget the image of Arredondo running along side the wheelchair carrying Bauman, pinching a major artery from what remained of Bauman’s leg to keep it from bleeding out as he and two other first responders race to help. Yes, Arredondo’s particular act of heroism should be duly noted as it should and will continue to be.

Still, let it not take anything away from the many acts of heroism, big and small, in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, for every act was truly heroic to the persons being assisted by these John and Jane Q. Publics, many of whom whose names will never be known. All we will ever of them are the various images posted in slide shows from various news sources such as The Huffington Post, The New York Times and of course The Boston Globe.

I guarantee as they all stood celebrating the marathon, did not ask their fellow onlookers about their politics. I guarantee those who ran to help once the bombs went off did not ask the victims about religion. All of it, all of it, is proof positive that we can put all the differences down to celebrate and work together, when it counts.

If only we could hold on to that and make it count everyday, not just special circumstances.

Boston, it’s going to rock you for a bit, we New Yorkers know and understand how that goes. Just remember, the spirit of what made us break ranks and create our own nation over two hundred and thirty years ago still runs through your veins. Trust, you got this.