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In light of the terrorist attacks of the past two days, I found myself unable to write with any palpable enthusiasm of the simple joys of liking music. So, I apologize but no acclaim is being reaped on any albums today and it isn’t the time to marvel at entertainment. There’s some things we need to talk about.

-Joe Padilla

The attacks in Paris have been devastating in loss of life, with at least 128 people confirmed dead and many more injured. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the bombings and gunfire, according to French president François Hollande. The group, which has dominated the news for the past year and a half, proclaims a militant, jihadist view of Salafi Islam as their doctrine and as their divine right to rule over their desired territory. What is needed in this time of tragedy, grief and anger is rationality and compassion, and here’s how we do it.

  1. Do not blame this on Hollande, or any other EU leaders who were in favor of taking in refugees. 

What is needed right now is to not point fingers when our hands are better used in helping our fellow man. Because of the Civil War in Syria and other events of displacement in Western Asia, the world has many refugees that need to live where their lives are not at risk daily. Many will say “France did this to themselves, with all the possible extremists they have let pour through to their country”. But France announced a plan to accept more Syrian refugees in September of this year, and as of right now, they are not even in the top 20 in terms of number of Syrian immigrants in their country. Yes, by letting refugees in, there is a chance for some of them to be extremists but on the whole, a vast majority are people who simply need to live where there isn’t a fear of Bashar al-Assad using chemical warfare on his own citizens, or getting caught in the crossfire between the military and the rebels.

2. We are in solidarity with France and the rest of the world to fight terrorism where it rears it’s head.

This was not the only terrorist attack this week. A suicide bomber killed 19 people at a funeral in Baghdad, Iraq Friday, and on Thursday 41 people were killed in Beirut, Lebanon. All three of these tragedies were likely the assaults of Salafi extremists and it is our duty as people of the world to stand in solidarity with the people of the world affected by these attacks.

3. This is not a reason to hate Muslims.

Whenever a terrorist attack by any sect of Islam occurs, Islamophobia and a great tide of hatred sweeps over us and blinds our rationality. We immediately think that this is a “Muslim problem” and we generalize the ideology of a select few to describe a group that is nearly 25% of the entire world’s population. And if we are to be trapped in the self-centeredness that all these attacks are only an affront to Western values, we’d be remiss to ignore the fact that the attacks in Baghdad and Beirut (one of which has been confirmed to be ISIL, the other very likely) was Salafi extremism on Shiite populations. It is also quite negligent to ignore the genocide of the Zoroastrian-influenced Yazidi population of Iraq from the terror of ISIL. ISIL is not merely declaring war on “The West”, it is a war on any beliefs that do not fall in line with their own.

4. Donate if you can to help a friend and ally in need

The French Red Cross has begun mobilizing volunteers and have 300 so far. Any amount can help someone in need who has been rocked by this tragedy, and you can donate here: https://www.redcross.org/donate/neu-h1015. There are many other organizations you can donate to, such as Friends of Fondation de France, Inc., and the IFRC, which help those in France and around the world.

5. Mourn all losses of life

We mourn those we have lost in the past week and all lives we have lost in the wake of terrorism, hatred and war, as we have just held commemorations of Veteran’s, Armistice and Remembrance Day around the world. We as humans have a special gift, the capacity for seemingly endless compassion. And in this most difficult of times, the most tense of situations, we must have compassion for those who find murder and hate to be the path of righteousness. The lives of these terrorists went down a path of unending darkness, where the only way to reach their Heaven was through these horrific acts. They have been led astray by leaders and clergymen who preach hate, and though we like to practice cultural relativism in all aspects of life, anyone who extolls hate, violence and murder, and especially in the name of the divine, is wrong. As a reincarnationist, I can only hope that they find peace, happiness and love in their next lives, which they have denied and deprived of in this life. We must all find the compassion necessary to love and forgive others as our brothers and sisters, for that is the only way we can lead ourselves out of this darkness and towards the light of a better tomorrow.

Thank you.

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