This past Friday night there was a terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Did you know that?

I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. It didn’t make big headlines. It was a 12-hour siege, leaving 28 people dead. Maybe if I wasn’t from Bangladesh I wouldn’t have known either. But I am. And I did. And it was horrifying.

Had I been in Bangladesh, who knows, maybe I would have been there, at that café. My brother and his friends could have been there. In fact, a friend of mine and her family escaped the attack just by a few hours. It is easy to get caught up in ‘what if’ scenarios, but it’s best to just stop your mind from wandering. What’s happening right now needs more attention. There are victims to be cared for. There are questions to be answered. There’s a country that’s grieving — and we need time to mourn and heal.

Dhaka 2016 Mourn

(repost: ilfoglio)

Dhaka 2016 Mourning

(repost: nirvoy_nakib)

Being away from home I have been grateful for social media. I was able to immediately get in touch with family and friends and make sure they were ok. I was also able to follow the live feed as the events were unfolding in Dhaka. It helped me stay connected, even though I was far away.

Another beauty of social media is that it allows people to express themselves in any manner they desire. While I didn’t always have this opinion (you can read about my thoughts here), it is something I have come to appreciate. When you’re in touch with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people via social media, it’s very unlikely that everyone will share your mindset, perspective, and opinion. To accept that and figure out a way to move on while not letting it ruin your friendship is a skill that needs time and effort to develop. Social media allows people to express their opinions immediately. In the heat of the moment when emotions are running high, people don’t always think before they post — I think it’s important to be able to let that go. Critical discussions are essential and can be beneficial to everyone, but quick judgments and assumptions can have harsh consequences.

After the terrorist attack in Dhaka, the anguish and despair was evident. The senselessness of the horrific act and the tragic deaths have left us reeling in disbelief and sadness. We all cope with things in different ways. Some of us withdraw while others reach out. Some of us write rants while others go to the heart of the tragedy and figure out how to lend a helping hand.

In the midst of the all the emotions, lies politics. I have been warned not to write about Bangladesh politics because of the insane number of murders of bloggers. In any case, it is not the politics of Bangladesh I want to address. It’s the politics of mourning.

After news of the terrorist attack, a handful of friends messaged me to check that my family was alright in Dhaka (they were). I appreciated their concern. This human connection is what’s important. Personally reaching out to those you know and making actual gestures makes a difference, because violence, regardless of the scale, can feel so very isolating. I believe that many people reached out to one another – to comfort and console. There was a sense of community and solidarity.

For some, however, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t long before the questions came up – Where’s the PrayForDhaka hashtag? Why can’t we change our profile photo to stand in solidarity with Bangladesh? Where are the cries of Je Suis Bangladesh {or more appropriately, Aami Dhaka}? [‘Why can’t we hear people declaring ‘aami Dhaka’ following Bangladesh terror attack?’ Huffington Post]

For me, I don’t think it matters. No matter where the tragedy, the hashtag will not bring those we have lost back or bring peace to those who are suffering. It’s just a hashtag.

Is it significant? Sure. If you consider media and politics and all the hidden (and not so hidden) agendas, it is definitely significant … but getting angry over the absence of a hashtag is not how I want to spend my energy.

Instead, I want to figure out what I can do to make a difference. What is reasonable and feasible for me? I don’t want to hide behind a hashtag and a catch phrase. The problem of apathy, rage, and violence is too important to be reduced to a slogan. Something more needs to be done. Even if it’s a touch of kindness, patience, and sympathy in a small corner of my neighborhood, I will start there. Every single gesture counts.

Just as me not changing my profile photo over the past several tragedies does not mean that I am not incredibly sympathetic, others not changing their profile photo or typing a hashtag also does not mean that they do not care or are not sympathetic. Every single terrorist attack is a horrible, devastating tragedy. Too many lives are being taken away for no reason. It is heartbreaking — yet we must find a way to rally and come together. Don’t focus on things that can divide us further – whether it’s a photo or a hashtag (or lack thereof). There’s enough despair and division among us already. Don’t worry about how others are expressing themselves – focus on staying positive and spreading as much kindness, acceptance, respect, and love as possible. Keep the bigger picture of tolerance and global unity in mind. Do good whenever and wherever you can. Set a good example for everyone around you.

Don’t get swayed by a hashtag.

Dhaka 2016 Flags1

(repost: habillal)

Dhaka 2016 Flag farm1

(repost: heeasarah)

Dhaka 2016 Flag

(repost: nao_daisylyn)

Cover photo credit: @khancious