Why The ISIS Attack In Baghdad Is The One The World Probably Cares Least About...And What We Can Do To Change...
By Jairaj Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International
I read an article in the Independent on Monday about the deadliest attacks by ISIS in weeks and went through so many emotions from despair to anger, to frustration. This is what struck me...
"Car bombings in Baghdad conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of victims' names and life stories."
I struggled to reconcile the drastic difference to a mass shooting in Orlando a few weeks ago to the killing of over 250 people, most of them young children in a Baghdad shopping centre. ISIS targetted the shopping centre during the month of Ramadan because they knew it would wreak the worst kind of devastation.
Why is it that when these things happen in the West, social media is awash with tributes, but when it happens in the Middle East or some other far off place it attracts only "muted global sympathy"? Ishaan Tharoor explained the events leading up to the bombing in Baghdad in his column for the Independent:
"First, they came for Istanbul. On Tuesday night, three suspected Isis militants launched a brazen assault on Turkey's main airport, exploding their suicide vests after gunning down numerous passengers and airport staff.
At least 45 people were killed. The world panicked; Istanbul Ataturk Airport is one of the busiest hubs in Europe and the Middle East, and it is among the most fortified. Are our airports safe, wondered American TV anchors. Could this happen here on the Fourth of July?
Next, they came for Dhaka. Gunmen whom many have linked to Isis raided a popular cafe in an upscale neighbourhood in Bangladesh's teeming capital.
For years now, we have become almost numb to the violence in Baghdad: Deadly car bombings there conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of the victims' names and life stories, and they attract only muted global sympathy."
Initially, I was angry at the hypocrisy of it, at why this happens in our world. Then I looked deeper into the question of 'why'. I looked deeper into my own life and thought, how many of us can honestly say that on a day-to-day basis we are concerned with what is happening around us in the wider world? Even with our neighbours who we may barely know? I know I can't say that anywhere near as much as I would like to. The emotion I felt was not just because of how "the world" behaves, but about what that reveals in me.
The sign of a true legend is someone who puts others first. Take Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi, don't they strike you as people who put the welfare and needs of others first? I'm certainly not saying we all need to suddenly become saints. Making sure ourselves and our families are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy and happy is one of the most important things we can do in life. But as a society, we are too stuck in our own needs, fears, concerns and selfish worries. Don't we all suffer from this affliction to some degree?
I watched a veteran of the Battle of the Somme the other day speak about "going over the top" to almost certain death against the German machine guns. He said something that stayed with me, that he was frightened, terrified even, but that "your fear goes away when you think about others".
I'm sure many of us have experienced this in some way shape of form.
The bombings in Baghdad are a reminder for all of us to think a bit more outwardly, to imagine the pain of the children burning from a car bomb blast while enjoying an ice cream going shopping. Resisting and fighting the fact that most of us are only concerned with what happens inside or near our front doors is pointless. Let's do what we can to change it, starting with ourselves.
True legends think about the inside of their front door, but they also think about what happens outside, because what happens outside directly affects what happens inside. Bill Gates is an example of someone who has learnt this. We are sending our children out into a world which is uncertain and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make our homes, schools and communities a better place in whatever way we can. That's what the Baghdad bombings have reminded me of.