It has been a constant feature these days that after every tragedy of massive human loss, division of opinion ensues; the solidarity is soon replaced by blaming or blame-shifting. One undercurrent to all such narratives often is that why this one? Why this particular tragedy is garnering wide attention and protests and condemnations? Why these rages at this blast while countless others are subsided? Aren’t all human lives the same? If yes, why victims of Malaria don’t get the same media coverage as victims of a bomb blast?

It is true that all human lives everywhere are precious all the same. But the varying reaction to each incident of human loss is a result of deep workings of our brains. Apologists will first jump and draw their own conclusions from otherwise manifest motives but their second ploy will be comparing the statistics from terrorist attacks to that of famine or road-side accidents or other such avoidable and perishable reasons. The tragedy of every terrorist attack is subsided by the myopic web of this false equivalency. Every tragedy is unique in its own way. But then some tragedies are inflicted upon humanity as reflection of some barbaric nihilistic rage.

This nihilistic rage, is often the result of cultural identity crisis, and manifests itself at striking at the very roots of modern civilization. Perhaps, then the repugnance we as humans feel is result of our concern for preserving human civilization. The other reason for such outrage is the very randomness of terrorist attacks. While one can take precautionary measure while driving and be able to avoid a tragedy, the same doesn’t hold valid for a terrorist attack. A bomb may go in midst of a crowded market and there are no possible ways that you can avoid being a victim other than not being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Fear is natural, xenophobia is not. While some on the left side of the political divide try to erect embankments against xenophobic attitude in the aftermath of a terrorist attack which is traced back to jihadists or Muslim terrorist groups. The futile comparisons aim at mocking the fear and concern and at times reek of all-good and why-so-worry downplaying of fear and terror. This can be a way forward if it is accompanied by the honest appraisal of what led to this terrorist attack, what kind of ideology is responsible and what narrative is needed to fight the nihilistic ideology of those who will not accept civilization in any form. In the west such kind of do-gooders will make a point from a can of diet coke while conveniently ignoring the massive xenophobic attitude and subhuman treatment minorities receive in other countries. ‘Hacking to death of bloggers in Bangladesh has nothing to do with a religion’, ‘mass-shooters have no religion’, ‘road-side accidents have killed more in US than terrorist attacks’, are the kind of statements which are used to establish false equivalences and which ultimately trivializes the pain of the tragic accidents. In their political correctness they end-up sanitizing the very barbarism that shed so much blood and took away so much human lives.

The other type of false-equivalence comes from the obscurantists in our midst: ‘Why the blood spelled in Istanbul is not the same as that of Paris’, ‘Why the DPs are changed to flag of France and not to that of Turkey’. But they forget that value of a human life is exactly the same that the surrounding humanity places in it, not intrinsically though. A terrorist attack in Paris is followed by hundreds of thousands of people coming to streets in protest and solidarity. While a carnage happens at a school in Peshawar and the next you hear is hollow promises and silly slogans of patriotism. What the international media should cover: a march strong hundreds of thousands or a tiny candle-vigil who is arranged by people that the proponents of crying victimhood miss no opportunity to mock? Twenty people will be killed in Peshawar and even after few hours that news will be relegated to fifth or sixth priority in evening news bulletin. It seems that we come to know of our loss of human lives when something equally tragic happens in the West. And while we will express solidarity with Turkey, we will stay silent as nothing has happened when terrorists attack happens in Kabul. Aren’t we selective ourselves? Or have we allowed selective humanity or are humans the ones that only we deem to be humans?

Solidarity and empathy and a pang of pain should be the immediate response to any terrorist attack if we have to be true to the calling of our humanity. It should be followed by honest soul-searching which asks for calling a spade a spade and not searching for distorted discourses which shifts the blame. After that we can come up with alternative narratives and restore the worth of human life to its due place.