Amongst the huge response to the Paris Attacks, there was also a significant response to the response. In between the wall-to-wall media coverage and genuine grief and shock that was being expressed by millions of people online, there were also a number of people wondering why we are so shocked when something so appalling happens in the heart of a Western City, but we seem less concerned when that terrible loss of life and damage happens somewhere else in the world.
Along with Paris, many people were wondering why Beirut, which suffered devastating double suicide bomb attacks that happened there just the day before received just passing notice in many Western news and media channels. What is it about our Selective Outragethat is so concerning?
While it is perfectly natural to react more strongly when the victims of a tragedy are either known to us personally, or that tragedy happens in proximity to us, there does seem to be definite and perceptible cut-off point in empathy when those same tragedies happen to people who are farther away, or we happen to see as ‘different.’
The whole world needs healing, not just Paris
A Plan to Polarise the World
Addressing this failure of empathy seems to be one of the most important issues arising from the widening spread of terrorism and conflict that we seem to be seeing in this present time. It is particularly important because we are seeing an increasing tendency amongst some political leaders and many frightened people around the world to call for greater separation, for new walls, new laws, new powers of surveillance and policing and more and more military might.
And ironically, this is EXACTLY what Daesh (also known as ISIL/ISIS) wants to happen. We know because they told us so. It’s actually a policy goal and the justification they use in employing such grotesque and inhumane tactics in their killing.
What they want is to remove the ‘grey zone’ between the West and the Muslim world. Daesh want to marginalise Muslims living in the West and force them to choose between their twisted interpretation of Jihad and the countries they live in. And they want to radicalise Westerners by getting them to call for greater and greater attacks on Syria and Iraq and Daesh’s bases there, thereby erasing the ‘grey zone’ and polarising the world into two.
“The world today is divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said, ‘either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’ Meaning either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam.” from the Daesh magazine, Dabiq.
The Walled World
In the twisted ideology of Daesh, these two camps are the ‘Crusader’ civilisation of the ‘Kuffar’ (disbelievers) pitted against the ‘Islamic’ state of Daesh. In actuality, the ‘two camps’ appear to be something quite different. They are not West vs. East, or North vs. South, Christianity vs. Islam, or even Developed vs. Developing countries. The actual geopolitical reality of the situation seems to boil down to ‘The Walled World’ and the ‘The Rest’. The graphic above, although outdated, shows exactly why.
14% of the world’s population lives in the protected zone, but has 73% of the income. 86% of the population live outside the zone, with just 27% of the income. Although the reality for many of those people is even starker as the wealth disparity in those ‘unprotected’ countries means that most actually live in poverty. The borders between the ‘Walled World’ and ‘The Rest’ are exactly where we have seen the refugee crises emerge, as you would expect as catastrophe outside the Walled World compels those outside to try and get in.
The ‘Walled World’ also has 75% of the military weapons (a trillion dollars a year global business) which are manufactured by wealthy “protected” nations, while more than 95% of deaths from these weapons have been in unprotected nations.
From the point of view of the Walled World, Daesh and Donald Trump are very much on the same side: the side of separation. The side that clamors for more walls to keep out the ‘other’. Whether from ideology, ignorance, or just plain hatred of what they do not know, the side of separation looks for solutions by making the world a smaller, less diverse place that seems to be under control.
The Walled World of Donald Trump
It appeals to the default neurological patterning of humans re-enforced by the oxytocin pathways in the brain, which leads people to see ‘their’ tribal members as more important, more human and more real than those who are distant from them. The problem with this, is that we no longer live in a tribal society where space and distance separates different cultures, we (whether we like it or not) live in a global village that is interconnected, interdependent and becoming increasingly so.
Instead of tribal empathy and selective outrage, somehow we must rise to the challenge of moving into planetary empathy and universal compassion. So how exactly can we do this?