A musician reflects on the attacks in Paris where a friend was shot twice and other acts of violence at music events and implores us to not allow terrorism or hatred to win.
This is going to be a bit of a personal piece. The attacks that unfolded only a couple weeks ago were something that really shook me to my core. That was the closest to home a terrorist attack or mass killing had been. A friend of mine was shot twice. As of right now she’s recovering in the hospital and her social media is being updated by a friend. The band that was playing lives an hour away from me. I’ve seen them live. These were people I am familiar with and even know.
This is different. This is far more personal.
When I got home from work and opened up my social media to catch up on what I missed while I was at work, my heart sank. I had only hours before seen my friend post that she was about to go see The Eagles of Death Metal in Paris … and every post was about a concert in Paris that had been attacked. I frantically started searching to see what concert it was and my hopes were dashed when I saw it was the concert she was at. She had been marked “safe” on Facebook, so I was pretty relieved. I woke up the next morning to reports of her hospitalization.
A few months ago, a 26-year-old, well-liked and well-respected musician named Emiliano Nevarez from The Lucky Eejits was hit by a random bullet from an altercation at another club and was killed in Oakland. That happened a month after I had played a show at the same venue. That hit home too. I didn’t know him, but I saw the anguish his death caused his community and scene.
It’s kind of like this: for me, I live in a world where I feel like it’s all pretty benign. I work, I play shows, and I go out with my friends from time to time to local spots where we are all comfortable and feel secure. I hear about all the mass shootings in the U.S., and terror attacks, and completely random acts of violence, and it seems so far away most of the time that I can only really empathize.
To put it simply, it’s always scary, but this time I am in fact terrified.
It’s become apparent that no place is safe. Between the acts of violence and/or terror, and the way media sensationalizes it, there’s a palpable layer of fear that has been woven into our everyday lives. I watch as our society becomes more and more paranoid as many people arm themselves to the teeth in order to either protect themselves, or in preparation for some modern-day Ragnarök they feel humanity is hurtling toward.
There’s so much hatred. So much. We are told they hate us, so we should hate them. Conservative media wants to paint the canvas with images of absolutes. “THEY” are absolutely the evil of the world. Islam is targeted as an all-inclusive organization that is standing across the field from “US.” We are the good guys who love freedom. Liberal media doesn’t understand there’s something real to the fear, and no amount of understanding, patience, and altruism is going to change the mind of a zealot.
So what do we do?
We communicate and share ideas with friends and strangers alike on social media. Mostly in lambasting arguments that usually end in personal insults that have nothing to do with anything more than egos and feelings being hurt. It’s unfortunate, but it’s natural. When people are hurting, afraid, or upset, they go into a defensive mode. Arguing is a by-product of feeling the need to protect one’s self from a danger they can’t predict or avoid.
Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t listen. Sometimes the ideas are harsh and retaliatory. Sometimes the concepts are shortsighted and paranoid. We don’t get justice. And we won’t. Whether the attackers all die in the attack, whether they are put on trial and imprisoned or executed, whether the mastermind of the attack is killed a decade later … it’s not going to bring back what was lost.
What we can’t do, though, is let the fear change us. We can’t be afraid to enjoy our lives. We shouldn’t close out the possibilities the world has to offer us because we’re constantly afraid of shadows. There is far more good in the world than bad. Unfortunately, good is boring and people don’t pay attention to it as much. Bad is traumatic, and chaotic, and leaves a scar. It’s easy to get caught up on the negative sensationalism that we get bombarded with on a daily basis. So, my suggestion is to spend some time and go find some reports of the good that humanity is also capable of.
Don’t be afraid of what you can’t control. Live every day like it might be your last. If, Cthulhu forbid, you happen to be a victim of a terror attack, or a mass shooting, or a car accident … try to make sure you can say to yourself at any given moment, “I have no regrets and I lived as much as I could.”
Terror only works when you let it cripple you. Mentally. Physically. Socially. The only thing you can do is refuse to let it.
Be as safe as you can, and do as much as you can. Ceasing to live is far worse than dying.
Since writing this, my friend in Paris has recovered and is advocating peace.