What Lives Do You Value?

It’s always bothered me when animals get labeled with “man eater”, and that the label is used as an excuse to kill it. What is it, really, that makes it OK for that animal to eat any other animal, but not a human? What is it that makes people consider human lives not only above, but so far removed from nature?

I think about this sometimes as more news of terrorist attacks come out of England.

  • London: 8 dead, 48 injured
  • Manchester: 22 dead, 120 injured
  • Westminster: 6 dead, 49 injured

And in France.

  • Notre-Dame de Paris: 0 dead, 1 injured
  • Champs-Elysees: 2 dead, 3 injured
  • Garges-lès-Gonesse: 1 dead, 1 injured

And then, of course, in America itself.

  • Ohio State: 1 dead, 13 injured
  • New Jersey/New York: 0 dead, 35 injured
  • Minnesota: 1 dead, 10 injured

With each event, Facebook profile pictures get changed. A new hashtag emerges. A concert is formed.

Yet meanwhile, places like Afghanistan and Syria are seeing astounding numbers of civilian deaths each day due to military operations. The U.S. forces alone have been responsible for almost 1,500 civilian deaths in these regions in March 2017 alone.

I understand that Americans can identify more with the lives of those in England and France than with those in the Middle East; yet, it’s clear from our actions and our media that we find the attacks on Western countries to be infinitely worse than the daily horrors those living in war-torn nations are experiencing, despite the fact that the attacks in England, France, and America pale in comparison to the lives lost and affected in Syria and Afghanistan.

The terrorist attacks in Western countries are horrible. But they are not the only atrocities happening. The decisions to cover one event over another, to retweet a supportive meme for one tragedy and not another, are all conscious decisions, and all reinforce the false narrative that Western lives matter more.

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