Friday, December 3, 2021

Why I Won’t Change My Profile Picture for Paris

I logged in to Facebook and everyone had a new profile picture with the French colours. I was happy actually that people were showing their solidarity with France. Then I realised that it is a tool Facebook had introduced, like the one they had during the #LoveWins campaign, only this time they were pushing it on my face. Not that I mind that though. But I am angry. Are some causes for humanity greater than others? My pain and question is this: where is the world when other human beings suffer?

I am still angry that Kenya lost over 140 young students during a terrorist attack and that, though there were students from all over the world standing with us, no world leader marched for us! (Not even our own anyway). No news agency remembered us. Facebook didn’t help us in any way. Neither did Twitter. We didn’t see the same measure of “solidarity”. Instead, CNN labelled us a hotbed of terror. And countries left right and centre threw Travel Advisories on our faces.

And in that anger, which some call biased and unfounded, I posted this:

Where was Facebook when Kenya was attacked? Where were the world leaders when our students were being slaughtered? I’m…

Posted by Dickson Otieno on Saturday, 14 November 2015

It is the truth! Inasmuch as it hurts that people have died in Paris, and inasmuch as people have a right of expression and a right to stand with whomever they want to, we should realise that a human life whether in Paris or in Baghdad or in Garissa is a human life. And that we are all equal. And that all lives matter. And that we should not overlook certain things and get used to attacks in Palestine or in Afghanistan or in Somalia!

Where is the world when a kid drowns while escaping these terrorists? Why don’t we march for the refugees? Why don’t we change our profiles? Why doesn’t Facebook or Twitter have special tags for attacks in Kenya?

Anyway, I am writing this in anger. Maybe it is blinding me. And maybe other people are seeing things in a different light. I don’t have a problem with you standing with France and posting #PrayforParis and changing your profile pictures. It is a good cause. However can we do it for the rest of the world next time? Can we be good to everyone else and stand with all of them?

Read this piece by Karuna Ezara Parikh, @karunaparikh:

“It is not Paris we should pray for. It is the world.

It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings two days before Paris, is not covered in the press. A world in which a bomb goes off at a funeral in Baghdad and not one person’s status update says “Baghdad”, because not one white person died in that fire.

Pray for the world that blames a refugee crisis for a terrorist attack. That does not pause to differentiate between the attacker and the person running from the very same thing you are.

Pray for a world where people walking across countries for months, their only belongings upon their backs, are told they have no place to go.

Say a prayer for Paris by all means, but pray more, for the world that does not have a prayer,
for those who no longer have a home to defend. For a world that is falling apart in all corners,
and not simply in the towers and cafes we find so familiar.”


We should stick this piece of literature on our walls and remember the privileges we enjoy: to be alive and to breathe, to whisper to the ones we love and to hug them. To sit down and watch the sun set. And then we should remember that not all of us are lucky to share the same. That there are children living in war zones. And there are parents struggling to escape these zones so that they can have a better life, even if it be a fraction of what we enjoy.

Peace for paris
Peace for Paris by @jean_jullien

We are one human race, let’s keep that in mind.

Read this post too.

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Dickson Otieno
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