Paris awoke the world, but shouldn’t we have already been awake?

From the Editor-in-Chief

“Guys, my mom just called and told me there are 40 people and counting dead in Paris. What the hell is going on?”

My friend asked my car this as we sat outside the Breckenridge City Market, then read out loud the CNN updates about the body count, the bombs, the hostages, and what little information officials and media sources could scramble together about the attacks.

The scene reminded me of when I watched from my phone the progress reports during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Dec. 2012. At the time, officials had no information on who the shooter was, his motivations, or his connection to Sandy Hook Elementary.

As someone from the Connecticut suburbs of New York City, my community was drastically affected by 9/11, but I was only in 1st grade, so my memory of it isn’t great.

Sandy Hook, however, occurred not only when I was older—a senior in high school—but also much closer geographically, only 20 miles away.

It is easy to think, ‘Oh, it will never happen to me or in my town,’ especially when you are from a town as safe as mine. But at the time, the reality of such a tragedy hit my classmates and me hard. All we could ask ourselves was, ‘What if the shooter decided to stop 20 minutes earlier at the elementary school in my town or my high school? What if I had a younger sibling in that classroom, pinned against the wall and left to either die or face emotional scarring for the rest of their lives?’

When I watched CNN update the death tally last Friday, the comfort of Breckenridge highlighted to the reality that the terrorism in Paris could have happened in Colorado Springs, a city with plenty of valuable military targets, or New York City.

Just like that day in Dec. 2012 during my senior year of high school, all I could ask was, ‘What if they had chosen Colorado Springs? I could be dead. What if they had chosen New York City? My dad would have been there.’

They are morbid thoughts, yes, I know, but they are ones I believe are essential when we think about international relations.

Without this train of thought, our ability to empathize with those in Paris, Beruit, Syria, and around the world is nearly impossible.

Until we have these thoughts, we continually suppress the idea of terrorism in our backyard, and thus have a less intimate desire to help the afflicted people on a personal and political level.

I’m not saying you should constantly live in fear of a tragedy, since the likelihood of one is low.

I’m saying that as a human being, we need to live in solidarity with others, not just after a tragedy, but all the time. In doing so, we can foster a larger global network connected by our need for love and compassion, albeit out of fear of losing the people who can provide us with it.

Even a group as threatening as ISIS cannot rupture a network with a strong, worldwide foundation.

Liz Forster

Liz Forster

Liz was the 2014-2015 Editor-In-Chief at the Catalyst. She has written for the Catalyst since her freshman year. In her free time, she likes to ski, bake, and read memoirs.

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