United we stand, divided we fall

Joelle El Sawalhi is an Ambassador from Lebanon. She founded the Interact Club of Tripoli el Mina, where part of her work has included organizing art workshops for rehabilitation of child soldiers. 

The last few weeks have brought shock and sorrow to people all over the world. From Beirut to Paris, Nigeria to Baghdad, the wound is the same. These horrendous acts are not only attacks on these respective cities, but on humankind as a whole.

As I am writing these words, my heart aches. My heart aches for the victims and their families. My heart also aches for the sense of humanity that has been lost by some. The way certain communities are choosing to deal with the issue at stake by pointing fingers at the most vulnerable, at people who do not relate in any way to these barbaric terrorist acts and condemn them strongly, is not the solution nor will it bring our beloved ones back.

During this critical time, when these murderers are using the strategy of “divide and conquer” we must not let them fragment our sense of brotherhood and common humanity. While some are busy blaming a religion and its 1.6 billion adherents, or even the citizens of Middle Eastern countries, we should not substitute our values of tolerance and compassion with the ones of hatred and prejudice.

The world is mourning, but we should not mourn selectively; the loss of life in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Nigeria should outrage us the same way as the one in Paris did. We need to avoid hierarchizing lives over others, and be aware of the dangerous implications it could have. Victims of these heinous attacks, wherever they are from, had families that waited for the day they would open the door and come back, aspirations and dreams that never saw the light.  

Today, let us not be French, Lebanese or Nigerians, let us be human. Let us pray for the people who have lost their lives, but act as well. Act in the name of humanity, act in the name of justice, act to prevent these terrorists from striking again.

Let us rise above the culture of intolerance and discrimination. Let us acknowledge that these acts are not representative of the religion of Islam, this religion of peace and love of the other. “United we stand, divided we fall” is the only sentence that accurately describes the stance we should adopt. Together, we can and we will stop them.

Watch the Peace and Security Plenary Session from the 2015 Summit here.