Millions of people are using #PrayForParis to express their condolences and support for the people of France. But I’ve also seen multiple people saying that #PrayForParis is meaningless, useless, inadequate, and even infantile because praying does nothing. Because more action should be taken immediately. Because the governments are not doing enough. And those comments are utter bullshit.
Let me first establish that these posts decrying #PrayForParis were made mere hours after the attacks took place. People had not even been able to identify the victims’ bodies, the death toll was not confirmed, and people all across the world were still trying to determine if their loved ones were safe.
But enough was enough for some people and #PrayForParis was clogging up their newsfeeds and dashboards. The people who are making these comments seem to be quite confused about the purpose of the hashtag. The government’s stance on the matter is not ‘hashtags will cure all’ but that this is an ‘act of war’ and that the response will be ‘merciless’. Maybe the government is not acting swiftly enough for these people but, as I said, it was mere hours after 129 people were killed. It was in the aftermath of a terrorist attack when people from all around the world wanted Parisians to know that they were not alone.
#PrayForParis is a way to show support for France and a way to present a united front after these atrocities. Should people also abandon #NotAfraid because, deep down, they really are afraid? Should they stop with #JeSuisParisian because #JeSuisCharlie is so January 2015? Should they cut out #PorteOuverte because they’re not literally throwing open their doors and allowing anyone and everyone to swarm into their house regardless of room?
Or maybe they should forget about #NousSommesUnis? After all, what what good is unity when they’re not immediately destroying another country based on the actions of a deranged few?
This week, one of my friends’ grandparents took a turn for the worst and I didn’t know how best to console them other than offering my support. Earlier this year, I didn’t know how to react to the death of my own grandmother. Condolences poured in but I didn’t know how to handle them. How do you handle death? In the face of it, even on a small scale, everyone feels utterly useless and just wants to express their support in any way they can.
To be honest, I’m not a religious person. But when people said that they would pray for me and my family after the death of my grandmother, I didn’t tell them to fuck off. They are saying in the most sincere way they can that they are supporting me. It’s the same as someone saying that their thoughts are with me. It’s kind of them to wonder if I’m doing okay, to take a second out of their day to check in and remind me that they’re there.
When faced with death on a much larger scale, when it’s blatant terrorism instead of old age or disease, how can you tell anyone how to grieve? How can you say that praying is meaningless and useless? Who are you to tell someone that they can’t find solace in something?
Telling people to stop using #PrayForParis because it won’t achieve anything is as bad as stopping by someone’s funeral and saying to the affected family, ‘Everyone here is an idiot for offering condolences because telling someone you’re sorry for their loss won’t bring the person back. Suck it up, princess.’
Please don’t think for one moment that making a comment like that is appropriate or that you’re a better, more intelligent person for seeing through ‘farcical religious expressions’.
All the compassion in the world may not be enough to heal someone’s pain. But I would rather have people #PrayForParis than let terrorism achieve its end goal and tear this world apart.