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Anyone who knows me, knows I love Paris. It’s one of those rare places in the world where I have felt entirely at home.
But I can’t update my profile picture with the blue, white and red overlay.
Because although I grieve deeply the attacks of the past 24 hours in that place I love so much, I grieve as well the equally deadly attacks that didn’t garner outrage on social media. Just one day earlier, dozens died in Lebanon and Iraq. Where are those overlays?
Some people are using the Paris attacks as a means to condemn student uprisings that are calling out racism in the US. I don’t see any of those same people grieving the deaths of brown people. I don’t see profile pictures changing to reflect deaths of any but those who look like us.
Do All Lives Matter?
But here again, let us raise up those lives that are not valued, those deaths that are not grieved. Let us remember that black lives matter. That brown lives matter. That Muslim lives matter.
Let us remember that if all those lives had truly mattered to us this whole time, the refugee crisis might not have reached such proportions. That we might be receiving refugees with more compassion for what they had been through. That those who are fleeing for their lives might not have been turned away at every border, made to live in squalid camps without adequate food or sanitation or healthcare.
I grieve the lives lost in France. But I grieve equally all lives lost to fear and violence – in the Middle East, in Europe, in South America, in the United States. And I lift up in particular those whose deaths, like their lives, seem not to affect us. I lift up those who seem to matter less.
And I will continue to do so – clearly and loudly, following the call of my faith to love all my neighbors – until all deaths are grieved, all violence evokes outrage, and all lives really do matter.
When all you have has been taken
eaten – devoured!
When you come face to face
with the end
Two choices remain:
To consent to the violation
to one’s own powerlessness;
Or to stand, invisible before the aggressor
and give before it can be taken
keeping that which still remains.
Did you think to rid yourself entirely
of responsibility? Obligation?
Which has more honor:
graceful garments and beautiful words?
or silent promises kept, unseen?
You shall not devour me.
I do not choose
the glory of mortals.
No edifice can contain
the God within.
I give, by my own will, and so reclaim
Myself: loving, compassionate
My giving, my choice coerces you
(although without the violation
you would have imposed)
To do what your piety refused.
My two coins, given freely,
mean you cannot devour me
but must care beyond your empty words.
My two coins, given freely, devour
your finery, your status, your honor
this feat of engineering in which you would
I give. I choose! Not out of my poverty,
but out of my abundance.
And my abundance devours you:
the poverty you seek to clothe
in sumptuous lyricism.