– Featured image by Moyann Brenn –
I was working on a blog post about the freelance art market. Then, Paris happened. Even though I was still a kid during some of the events, I could remember where and how I felt when each of the major act of terrorism reached my ears. 9/11. Boston. The first Bali bombing. Now, Paris.
I kept seeing people ‘Praying for Paris’ and I refused to do something as stupid and useless as that. It does absolutely nothing but make the person praying feels better.
If something good happens, the praying could say, “My prayers reached them”. If something bad happens, they could say, “People did not pray enough”. It is a selfish-as-fuck action and I refuse to do it. It takes the blame to everyone else, and leaves the praying with only feeling of false righteousness.
Instead, I will do what I can to affect change. I will do what I’ve always done.
I will tell you a story.
8 years ago, when I was just 15, I was about to take a cab to meet my friends for dinner. Just as I flagged down the cab and had one leg through the door, a van careened through the lane opposite us, tire smoking, and crashed into a traffic light, the van on its side.
I remember exchanging glances with the cab driver, and he had the asking look if I was still coming in. I slammed the door behind and darted across the jammed three lane traffic.
By the time I got there, the driver had already climbed out of his van. Amidst a sea of crowd, with no one helping him. Another group of people had circled the body of a pedestrian. I pushed my way in and, between a wall of adults, men and women, from all walks of life, 15 years old me knelt down to check for a pulse.
There were soup everywhere. The victim’s lunch was spilled across the floor. They had bough takeaways. I noticed a pool of blood still forming beneath the body, just as I felt the faint traces of a pulse. I was certified with basic medic training, and my own experience and knowledge was telling me I needed to stop the bleeding, because of how profuse it was.
After a quick check of the front of the body, I found no wounds. I thought the wound must be on the back. I looked up to the wall of adults and asked them to help me turn the victim over, because I was 15 and not strong enough to lift and turn a grown adult.
None came forth. There were many reasons. Some were afraid they’d get sued if the man died under their care. Some excused themselves by making calls for an ambulance. 9 people were making that same call. 9.
Other said they don’t know what to do, and thus, argued, they shouldn’t do it. There was mumbles of “It’s too late.” and “Just give up. Some weren’t willing to take up the responsibility of possible failure. Then, I saw one thing that broke my heart. One woman, in her late 40s, was praying. Eyes closed, fists clenched. Praying.
And as I watched her pray and listened to the reaction of the people around me, I felt the beat of the final pulse of the victim at the tip of my fingers. The person passed on. I stood up and walked away. There was nothing else I could do.
A person was dying in front of me, their pulse at the tip of my fingers. And I had to shout for help at a wall.
And the wall might say, “But I don’t know what to do.”
Well, neither do I, really. I was afraid to perform CPR, because I didn’t know it the rip cage was crushed. But I did what I could, which is a lot more than nothing at all.
“We should wait for help!” some might scream.
But the danger is happening now! In front of our eyes. We have a very short time to react, and there is a traffic jam. No one else is coming to save us. The ones who are there are the ones who must act.
“What if I fail?”
You’re going to fail if you don’t try. If you don’t do anything, this thing here is set in stone. If you try, there’s a better chance for a better outcome.
“We might get sued!”
“I’ll pray for you…”
“There’s nothing we can do.”
Fuck you. Seriously.
Even before the day of that accident and the years after, I’ve spent my life screaming at the same wall that stood around me that day. The stories I write, I try to underline equality and familial relationships. Everyone is an equal, and everyone is a living sentient being. While my stories are the slow burn, my actions on my blog, writing about mental health, and the things I do and say in real life, are my instant abilities that I try to use.
But I find myself talking to people who, despite having problems happening around them, refused to act, based on the exact same statements made by the people around me the day of the crash.
Hundreds of thousands of civil, peace-minded individuals are shouting at a wall of billions strong. And if we raise out fists to hit at that wall, we are hypocrites. We are left with a match where we try to shout logic and peace into the ears of those inactive and those who do not want to listen.
And when a part of the field explodes, we cry foul and ask why was something not done to prevent such a tragedy.
Nothing was done because no one wants to do it. We saw problems with the world, and while a small group of people shouted, pointed and dragged at arms, asking others to help them fix it, the rest stood by and watch. Their standing around the dying body of a person hit by a van and, from fear to stupidity to cowardice and selfishness, refusing to help, caused the lost of lives.
A friend of mine, an activist and social worker, says, “We’re not trying to tip the needle. We’re just trying to hold it up so the people on it don’t fall over. And we’re being hit by stones thrown from the ones at the top.”
Even if you don’t do anything, failure is a guarantee. Success is a chance you must fight for. And the more people fight for the success of peace, the more chances we get.