Don’t just #prayforparis, also #prayforpeace      a column by Matt Backes

In the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in Paris by the group ISIS, which ended up with the death of 168 Parisians and foreigners and the wounding of 368 more, a popular phrase has flooded social media. It seems that anywhere you look, people are using the hashtag #prayforparis. This hashtag urges people to remember the attacks and pray for healing for the city of eternal light. However, we should not just pray for Paris.

It’s easy to see why the Paris attacks have attracted so much attention both in the media and among everyday citizens. Devastation and indiscriminate killings on as large of a scale as those experienced by the residents of Paris are hard to forget, and the images that came out of the media in the hours after the bloodshed may be permanently seared in the hearts of the concerned masses. The flood of heartbreaking information that flowed out of the city since the first gunshot has been unnerving to say the least. To see that terrorists can strike at the heart of Western civilization with apparent impunity is frightening to say the least. Paris obviously needs prayers and healing.

Nonetheless, Paris is not the only target of terrorists in the recent months. Just one day before the November 13th Paris attacks, suicide bombers in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, killed 43 civilians and wounded 200-plus more. Very little was seen in the news about this attack before the Paris attacks, and the subject seemed to be completely moot after the events unfolded. Some may point out that the Paris attacks were more severe in the number of human lives lost, but that still doesn’t erase the fact that 43 innocent humans lost their lives to needless violence, and Lebanon has very few voices praying for their country’s healing. When did it come to the point in American history where the brutality of actions and the need for remembrance was measured solely by proximity and quantity of destruction. Some strange sense of morals must be had by an individual, to feel that 168 deaths near their homeland are more tragic than 43 deaths in the Middle East.

To point out other tragic events that went largely unnoticed by the general public this year, on October 30th Metrojet Flight 9268 was destroyed in an apparent bombing by the terror group ISIS. All 224 passengers on that flight were fatally injured. On October 10th, a suicide bombing in Ankara, Turkey, killed 102 civilians and wounded 400-plus. On September 9th, 145 Nigerians were killed and 150-plus were wounded in suicide bombings in northern Nigeria. July 17th, saw more bloodshed as 130 people were killed and 130 more injured in attacks on mosques in Iraq. A massacre on June 25th killed some 230 Syrians. Very little attention was given to these events, if any at all.

By all means, Paris needs our prayers. She needs healing, remembrance, and she needs to rise above the terror and chaos. But our prayers and thoughts should not go out to Paris. They should go out to those in Beirut, Ankara, Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria. They should go out to all those around the world who live in terror and live in fear of oppression. So, pray for Paris. But pray too for Beirut. Pray for Iraq. Pray for Turkey. Pray for Nigeria. Pray for change. Pray for mercy. Above all, #prayforpeace.    

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