The media feed after the ISIS attacks in Paris had a familiar feel to me. People seeking answers. People seeking revenge. People seeking solutions. People feeling like their story was being overlooked.
- What about the massacre in Beirut? Mali? Kenya?
- Ban the refugees!
- It's all ___'s fault!
- More wiretaps!
- More drone strikes!
- Bomb Raqqa!
And on and on.
I remember, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a similar dialogue. It was mostly carried out via email then, but the flow was the same. People were hurt. They were afraid. They needed to make sense of something that made no sense at all. And I remember, as I read the back-and-forth, thinking that we needed to cut each other some slack. Someone took the conversation too far down the patriotism road for your liking. OK, you disagree, but have a little patience and understanding. You don't have to agree to feel their pain.
I've spent a good part of the last few weeks in LA, where the media is obsessed with the shootings in San Bernardino. Maybe this is because it's a hot story. I think it's also because people are hurting. How could this happen to us?
Overlay the silly season that is the run-up to Presidential primaries and you have a recipe for extreme "look at me" views as candidates vie for attention and media coverage. These stories further stir the pot, as people debate the talking points on their merits, or debate whether the points have any merit at all.
Through all of this, I suggest attaching a human face to the group you want to address. Think about your Muslim friend, your relative who works in government. Think about families you see that are struggling to find a safe place to live. Would you say the same things to their face? Maybe that should be the test.