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The discussion about how we were all so focused on saying prayers for the citizens of Parls, and yet not for the citizens of other terrorist attacks in 2015 gave me pause. I feel no less sorrow for victims of terrorist attacks in Beirut, Syria, Thailand, or yesterday’s attack in Nigeria than I feel for those in France. And I feel the pain of those who suffer ongoing terrorism in countries such as Rwanda and people such as the Yadizis. As an empath, I have had to learn how to shield myself from my own feelings about these world events, and to some extent, from stories about poignant tragedies and disasters, while at the same time immersing myself in those stories until I can comprehend them, instead of just feel them. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I am.

The uproar about our world’s lack of caring for other countries suffering similar attacks made me recognize (again) how our perception is driven by the media. Had we had minute-by-minute coverage on CNN about the Beirut attack and its aftermath, swarms of reporters heading to the scene immediately, and interviews with survivors and those who lost loved ones, perhaps our own sympathies would have been equaled stirred. But that’s not what happened. That’s not what happened with the terrorist attack in Yola, Nigeria yesterday. That same kind of intense media scrutiny might have generated similar sympathies. So yes, the media partially responsible for our reaction. It’s the only way we know about what’s going on thousands of miles away. In the early 19th century, it would have taken weeks or months to learn about a tragedy within a family if one branch were far distant. I don’t doubt that people lived from birth to death without knowing about atrocities committed on other continents.

(I will say here that the media did a good job of covering the horrific attack on the school in Kenya last April, and that my spirit was heavy with pain for the victims of that tragedy.)

Paris is a city that has been much more romanticized by western civilization than Beirut, Yola, Aleppo, or Kunduz. It has been the setting for films, novels, advertisements, vacations, and dreams, much more often than other cities that have undergone the trauma of terrorism, and that is another reason that last week’s events resonated more with many than did the other acts of terror. That doesn’t make it any more or less important. It just puts it more to the forefront of our personal vision. Had I known someone that had spent time in Beirut and fallen in love with it and shared that feeling with me, I don’t doubt that I would be more attuned to the daily events there. But, unfortunately, I don’t.

I appreciate the discussion about why we as a society did not seem to care as much about the other countries that were victims of violence last week and earlier in the year, and in the years past. It has made me recognize that I want to be more aware of what’s happening in the world, of the places that need the strings of my spirit to reach out with love and support across the miles. That’s now something I am committed to doing. It doesn’t minimize my feelings of empathy for Parisians, but it does make my empathy for other countries shine.

Like many, I wish there was more I could do. I am just one person. But all of us are just individuals. If we approach each other with empathy and love, perhaps all of our feelings of compassion combined can make a difference. I hope.

Love

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” — Jimi Hendrix

Daily gratitudes:
Confirmation that my pregnancy radar is still functioning (no, I”M not pregnant)
MKL
Getting things done
Heightened awareness
Talks with Kelsea who will be coming home on Tuesday!

I do not understand the violence in terrorists’ souls that enables them to commit such atrocities as we’ve seen tonight in Paris. It is even more challenging to try to comprehend how someone can do these things in the name of a deity – although at this point, that’s only an assumption. I suppose that is a good thing, that I cannot understand it. But the empath that I am can understand the pain and fear and loss. I can feel a hole in spirit tonight, on a day that started with minor first-world annoyances, and ended with a perspective on what’s really important.

I have never been to Paris, but have always wanted to go. Kelsea had a picture of the Eiffel Tower above her bed since she was born. I put it there to inspire her dreams. She has been there, to the very top, and I envy her that experience. It’s a city that has been made magical in the minds of those who dream. The logical me knows that it is a gritty city, just like another other city, with it’s glimpses of heaven around corners, and sewers that make you wrinkle your nose. Sculpted architectural beauty side-by-side with McDonald’s. It’s the Seine and the bridges, and the homeless and the pickpockets. The tourist traps and the hidden spaces where you can breathe in the past. It has a heart. And tonight, I feel the breaking of that heart.
Prayers for Paris.

DSCF0538

Quote of the day: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” — Ernest Hemingway

Daily gratitudes:
Our freedom
Children’s smiles
Long, long winter scarves
Fancy pajamas
That love can conquer hate

Three Yellow Balloons (For Boston)

Three yellow balloons drifted away.
This city that took much of my naiveté
Lost some of its own innocence today.

My old city shines and celebrates.
This day is a vacation day, a play day.
Everyone is your new friend,
The chill of a New England winter
finally shaken off our shoulders.

Music plays at the bandstand,
And the Charles sparkles with
Little jewels from the sun.

It is Race Day.

Runners start far away, but still
the streets are lined with people,
cheering on strangers.

We set up chairs on the roof of a brownstone,
Bask in the almost-forgotten sunshine.
Skip class. Skip work. Skip under the blue sky.

Runners start arriving
At the foot of Heartbreak Hill.
We yell and shout and clap and encourage
and find our favorites to root for.

The runners struggle on with an end in sight,
A goal
Worked for and earned with sweat and time and pain
and pride.

And then

Everything changes
In an instant
In a blast
In screams
In silence
In leftover puddles of blood.

I see
three yellow balloons
drift into the air
above it all.

Just floating.
Released by the hand of a person whose life will never be the same.

Goodbye, balloons.

Goodbye.

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