Kurt Vonnegut wrote that "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre," while contemplating his experience during World War II. In Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, the birds have the last word after a massacre.
"And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like 'Poo-tee-weet?'"
Vonnegut subtitled his novel the "The Children's Crusade" to convey a dark and terrifying war waged by boys, most not older than their early 20s.
It is easy to "think" in the aftermath of a massacre. Thoughts race to the brain. It is hard to call some of these things thoughts--emotions like anger and feelings like rage dominate the mind after seeing members of our human family slaughtered, killed in the name of a terrifying cause.
If there is one thing that most human beings can agree upon, it is that Daesh (a name disassociating the so-called "Islamic State" from Islam) is the lowest of humanity. Its pretense to slaughter is a distortion of Islam, a religion of peace. It does not represent the more than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, who are often the victims of its brutal attacks. Daesh's end is a global goal that should unify us all in solidarity.
It is somewhat comforting to see the French flag's tricolour flood my Facebook newsfeed, even though some may perjure it as "slacktivism." But recognition and awareness are the beginning of social change, and if you condemn Facebook's campaign of "slacktivism," you must be ready to defend the counterfactual: what if no one cared or showed solidarity? Is that somehow more moral? Or does it just show your moral superiority?
How global is our solidarity? Why does it seem that French solidarity is easy and widespread while solidarity with the victims of bombings in Lebanon or Iraq is hard to find?
The Muslim lives taken by Daesh do not seem to enter into America's collective sense of "moral community," our network of people and things we recognize as demanding our senses of justice, compassion, or duty.
As human beings, we are probably incapable of summoning up the emotional stamina to feel every single sorrow. There is a very real "tragedy fatigue." There is simply too much suffering, and we can only take so much heartbreak. But what we do end up paying attention to and caring about betrays a thought process that doesn't include a truly global moral community. It is easier for us to read about tragedy in places where Americans come and go, but it does not have to be this way.
It is easy to blame the media for reporting much more on massacres in Paris than on bombings in Beirut or Baghdad. But media outlets are simply responding to consumer demands and market forces. It is on you, the consumer and moral citizen, to demand better coverage and to actively seek out a broader moral community. Live and read outside of the box of American media and Twitter feeds.
Living and thinking ethically as a member of our human family requires thought, attention, and moral deliberation.
Do all massacres matter? It is a question for each of us to decide.
Journalist Nicholas Neuteufel significantly contributed to the research, writing, editing, and publishing of this work.
Do you have thoughts or opinions? Contact the author.
Views of Andrew Royce Bauer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the positions of his company ROYCE at www.royceleathergifts.com.