LEWISTON, Maine, U.S.A. – In the 21st century, the world experiences horror in real-time.
Blasts and bullets break the peace of a Friday night in Paris, and smartphones across the globe buzz with the news.
I am shocked, and then saddened. Reports now say more than 100 people are dead, but the number seems likely to be higher than that.
The New York Times can’t say who’s responsible, but they note that on Twitter, supporters of the Islamic State cheer the bloodshed.
Reading this across the Atlantic, my shock and sadness turns to disgust, tinged with confusion and anger. It is impossible for me to see the world through their eyes. How could a person celebrate at the death of innocent people?
I read that the hostages held in a Parisian concert hall pleaded with the police to storm the building – the shooters were killing them one by one. At this, I feel a rage well up inside me, coupled with an unbearable helplessness.
Once, several years ago, I was in Paris. It was the last stop on a jazz band trip, my high school friends and I roamed the city. We marveled at Notre Dame, climbed the Eiffel Tower, and more, falling in love with the city, the history, and in some cases, each other.
Paris was a golden moment in our young lives; it had given us a taste of the immense beauty humans are capable of creating. Now, four years later and an ocean away, Paris is not beauty and love, but blood and terror.
And here I sit, comfortable and secure, reading update after update.
What are we supposed to do? The stories keep coming. We have the tools to know in astounding detail exactly how our fellow human beings are meeting their violent ends, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.
I don’t know why this keeps happening. Not just in France, which has seen far too much destruction and death in the last year, but all across the world.
We are intimately acquainted with the absolute worst humanity is capable of – school shooters, suicide bombers, genocidal tyrants.
Their most despicable actions are delivered to us, day-in and day-out. And sometimes … sometimes the blood and the helplessness gets to be too much.
I suppose I should be grateful that this night, the evil of man has overlooked my corner of the world, that the Angel of Death has business elsewhere.
But I’m not. My heart breaks tonight for the people of Paris.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins is a Correspondent for Youth Journalism International.