If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you might have seen a peculiar hashtag in my bio.
This phrase is representative of a massive social and political void which became stunningly clear in the midst of the attacks on Paris and Belgium.
verb, mar·gin·al·ize \ˈmärj-nə-ˌlīz, ˈmär-jə-nəl-ˌīz\
i. to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group
To marginalize a group is to do more than to simply render them powerless. It is to overlook them in every sense of the word- to drain them of their resources, but mute their cries for help.
As it relates to pain, specifically the uneven distribution of sorrow, there is a troubling pattern which exists in American society.
This hashtag is an aimed appeal to the millions of Americans who view pain through a disproportionate lens.
This hashtag calls into question the millions of people who stood in solidarity against the terrorist attacks in a few European countries, but couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge the massive loss of innocent civilians in other parts of the world.
Charting the Oversight
On November 12, one day before the infamous Paris attacks, there were twin suicide attacks in Beirut conducted and claimed by the so-called Islamic State. These attacks were similar in nature to those later launched on innocent Parisians– both targeted heavily trafficked, urban areas. The difference? Only one was recognized.
45 Lebanese people died on November 12. Hundreds more were critically injured.
Did the Empire State Building illuminate their state colors on its exterior? Did any of your universities lower their flags to half mast? Did you participate in a moment of silence?
“Around the crime scenes in south Beirut and central Paris alike, a sense of shock and sadness lingered into the weekend, with cafes and markets quieter than usual… But for some in Beirut, that solidarity was mixed with anguish over the fact that just one of the stricken cities – Paris – received a global outpouring of sympathy akin to the one lavished on the United States after the 9/11 attacks” (Barnard)
This inadequate distribution of mourning is an all-too-common theme.
On March 13, just a few days before the Belgian bombings, there was not one, but two equally disastrous terrorist attacks in Turkey which killed 40 people and left over 100 injured.
Dozens of lives were snatched from their bodies that day. Souls were ripped from their hosts, potential was collectively snuffed out– and not a single American tear was publicly shed.
In the month of March, the world lost over 100 lives to terrorism. The 34 Belgian lives were mourned across the world. The rest were silently overlooked, muted, and rationalized.
These were the lives of warriors. Strong and determined souls that were destined for greatness. These were the lives of people who had survived more in the last 1o years than many people would experience in an entire lifetime.
Lebanese blogger and physician Elise Fares summed up the disparity perfectly when he wrote:
“When my people died, no country bothered to [light] up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. Even Facebook didn’t bother with making sure my people were marked safe…When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world”
Perhaps the Empire State Building failed to mourn the Ankaran and Beirutian people because most Americans wouldn’t even recognize their state colors.
Perhaps our flags were not lowered to half mast because the loss of dozens of black and brown lives are not considered to be the loss of anything valuable.
Perhaps America didn’t have the decency to conduct a national moment of silence for these slaughtered people because they spoke Turkish and Arabic instead of a romance language.
“If only Europe knew, though, that the night of November 13 in Paris has been every single night of the life [of] refugees for the past two years. But sleepless nights only matter when your country can get the whole world to light up in its flag color” (Fares)
Marginalization extends far beyond the realm of misunderstanding and ignorance. Rather, it connotes that certain lives are dispensable.
“The sting that the Lebanese people felt when the world’s attention was focused on Paris, the day after the massacre in Beirut, is a sting that Syrians have known deeply over the past five years” (RT)
I do not believe that the idea of selective dispensability is inherent. Instead, I believe that it is engrained in rhetoric which is taught, reiterated, and sold to the general populous.
This is Nationalist, Classist, & Racist Rhetoric (NCRR).
NCRR tells you that the scores of innocent civilian lives lost to drone strikes every month can be dismissed as casualties of war.
NCRR will lead you to believe that the tragic loss of 2,996 Americans on September 11th is equal to the direct and indirect massacre of half a million Iraqis.
NCRR will lie to you. Numb you. Mislead you. Derange you. Derail you. And Bigotize you.
It will cause you to unconsciously devalue billions of people in this world.
It will cause you to wish harm on others in order to avoid it yourself.
NCRR will cost you your humanity, apathy, decency, and your dignity.
Worst case scenario, it will even cause you to rejoice in the face of marginalized pain
NCRR will turn you into a man like Everett Stern– and no one wants that.
I beg you to confront this rhetoric and slap it across its face. And there IS a face to slap.
Let’s conduct an analogous experiment.
First, close your eyes and picture a world in which religious testaments were fed to you through a biased and opportunistic machine. Imagine your only access to eternal life and righteous existence lying at the hands of a single priest or within the walls of one monopolized temple.
Oh, wait… I’m describing 16th century Rome (talk about relying on ignorance)
Next, imagine a world in which all of your political and social testaments are fed to you through a biased and opportunistic media source. Imagine your only access to the world around you being filtered through Fox & Friends, CNN, and MSNBC.
Do I even need to write out the punch line?
It is our duty to pray for marginalized pain because marginalized pain has been silent for too long.
Actually, no. Marginalized pain has been silenced for too long.
It is our duty to confront the system which leads us to accept the notion that there is a hierarchy to human existence.
Despite what mainstream media might lead you to believe, the deaths of those 34 innocent men and women in Belgium, and the 128 in Paris were no more tragic than the deaths of the 45 in Beirut, 40 in Ankara, and the dozens of other instances which were not reported by Western news outlets.
#Pray4Syria #Pray4Pakistan #Pray4Iraq #Pray4BurkinaFaso #Pray4Jakarta #Pray4Japan #Pray4Tunisia #Pray4Mali #Pray4Nigeria #Pray4Coted’Ivoire
Praying for marginalized pain goes far beyond a verbal plea to your respective higher power. It is a sociopolitical statement– thereby eliminating tacit consent to global atrocity. Praying for marginalized pain verbalizes the fact that you see the pain in this world, and are willing to fight against it.
You must pray for marginalized pain until marginalization ceases to exist. In doing so you are working to close the gap that exists between the West and the rest of the world. As you fill the voids in your global perception, you open up your heart and mind. You will no longer find yourself disinterested in the plights of humanity. You will view the world and all of its inhabitants on a more equal scale, and resultantly you will love it accordingly.