Opinion: Our hearts beat as one

Ashley Atherton is a junior political science major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Ashley Atherton

I came home Friday expecting a long and difficult weekend because of the three exams I have next week and a paper to finish for the following week. I was selfishly complaining about that most of the day without a care in the world except my own—now in retrospect miniscule—problems. I also assumed I would write about the winners and losers of Saturday’s Democratic Debate.

I wish I could say nothing appalling happened this weekend to change that, but alas, it changed.

My phone went off about 10 times in the matter of a minute. I assumed someone stuck me in a group message, so slightly annoyed I pulled out my phone.

That’s when my stomach dropped. “Explosions and gunfire across Paris in an apparent terrorist attack.” I turned on CNN hoping it wasn’t as bad as it sounded and I was again disappointed.

I watched CNN cover the attacks from the time they began, through the hostage situation and until I went to bed around midnight. I was horrified in every manner of the word. I felt so embarrassed about my earlier worries, realizing how small they really are in hindsight.

Between the terrorist attacks this week in Beirut and Baghdad along with the attacks in France all I could think in the midst of the unjustified violence was what is this world coming to?

The entire night and next day, however, I began to gain hope in humanity. From the words of President Obama, to President Hollande and the world of social media, I saw a spark I haven’t seen in a long time. People cared. They wanted to show their support for Paris and the whole country of France, they still do.

It may be a small act just switching a profile picture to the colors of the French flag and sharing articles and political cartoons, but I have already seen a difference in the world.

The entire world has been lighting up while France is dark, and it is beautiful. Finally, the world wants to come together. We want to support each other. We want justice. We are tired of ISIS calling the shots. It seems like the entire world, from the United States, to France, to Russia and even to Syria, want to act.

My heart is still broken over the horrific violence that tore through Paris. But my heart also sees hope in humanity. I hate that it took something as painful as what happened in France—and please don’t forget the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Baghdad as well—to light a fire under the rest of humanity. But now that the light has been lit, we cannot let it go out. As a world, we must not forget.

I’m not naive to assume world peace will ever be achieved, but I have a renewed optimistic faith in humanity. Humans have done absolutely incredible things, we’ve gone to the moon, invented inconceivable technology and made unbelievable medical marvels.We have each done that as separate countries competing against each other. If we can achieve that greatness individually, imagine what we can do if the world comes together to stop terrorism and ISIS after these brutal attacks.

We stand with you, Paris. The whole world stands with you.

Ashley Atherton is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].