The terrorist attacks in the city of Paris have stirred up feelings of solidarity and concern – which is right and good. We are called to feel and respond to the suffering of all people.
But for me it is paradoxical that a single terrorist attack evokes so much concern and news, while every month more than 300 people are killed here in Honduras, while each day, while, according to the World Food Program, “Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.” I recall the thousands killed in Gaza last year, the tens of thousands fleeing Syria, those feeling hunger and gang violence from Central America. The list goes on and on.
The deaths in Paris ought to open us to wider compassion, a compassion a which embraces all the victims of violence, including all the victims of structural violence which leaves so many powerless and hungry.
The words of Martin Luther King, Jr., from June 1961, can help us open our hearts in this time of pain and sorrow:
“This is to say that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars. as long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no man can be totally healthy, even if he just got a clean bill of health from the finest clinic in America. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way the world is made. I didn’t make it that way, but this is the interrelated structure of reality. John Donne caught it a few centuries ago and could cry out, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.’ If we are to realize the American dream we must realize this world perspective.”
May our solidarity embrace all people.