What if we changed the narrative?
What’s occurred in Paris, all around the world actually, this weekend is a tragedy; it’s a tragedy whenever and wherever such brutal violence is inflicted. It’s a tragedy that, from the days of the Reformation to Beirut, Bagdad, Paris, Kenya and all the fighting that isn’t even given a mention today, it’s evident that this need for power and domination through force, violence and fear is just part of the human condition, there is no antidote.
There will always be a target, an enemy, a non believer, a nemesis, a threat – some real, some created by self actualisation or hype, some made up; sometimes the fight comes to us, sometimes we go looking for it.
At times like this the headlines are ( understandably) angry, and the stories tell us why:
“France will be merciless towards these barbarians from Daesh”
“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action”
“In the worst carnage, gunmen systematically killed at least 89 people”
But what if we changed the narrative?
In every event we focus on the perpetrators, perpetuating their “power”, spreading their story. We spread the word of their carnage, their pain, their names and their tribes. We communicate their messages for them, all they need to do is show up and reak havoc, we’ll do the rest. It’s only weeks, months, years or decades later that we hear the stories of triumph, of people who were stronger or smarter than the fear, pain and suffering literally exploding around them. Sometimes we never hear about these heroes, but we always know the name of the villian.
Imagine headlines and stories that instead read:
“The people of Beruit show true heroism after shock attack”
“In the face of tragedy Kenya vows ‘You have no Power here’ “
” As one cowardly gunman took 89 lives, Parisians became everyday heroes, saving 200 from targeted Stadium”
For mother of three Emilie’ Gervois, 32, Saturday started as ordinarily as any other day. She and her husband spent the morning watching their children’s sports games, they had lunch together and then Emilie’ and her girlfriends excitedly prepared for the concert that night.
By the end of the night Emilie’ had helped save the lives of more than 20 concert goers as a cowardly gunmen took 89 lives shortly after a bomb exploded at the concert stadium. One of many city wide attacks last night.
As the group ISIS claimed responsibility for this coordinated effort with a self confessed ‘triumph and disruption over Paris’ , a shocked and frightened Emilie’ helped others from the debris, tendered to the injured as best she could, guided paramedics to their location, kept the panicked calm and hugged crying strangers. Her hajib symbolised heroism to those she rescued, one even she didn’t know she had until that moment. A strong juxtaposition to the fear the ISIS group was attempting to use her religion to create.
Today Paris has hundreds of new heroes, thousands grateful for the kindness of strangers and our community, and a proud voice that says to those who tried to destroy us ” You Have no Power Here”.
As we focus on repairing the damage, and our government begins to investigate, through the thousands of stories like Emilie’s we are a stronger, more united people today.
No words of War or Revenge, No voice given to the attackers or their message, No dealing from their deck. No perpetuating and normalising this cycle of violence.
It’s a belief and a narrative of a different kind of strength, I wonder what that world would look like?