But in Paris, families are mourning their loved ones.
I have everything I need: a roof over my head, money in my bank account, more credit available to me than I ever dare use, friends and family who love and tolerate me, the freedom to create or waste my time as I see fit.
But in Beirut, families are mourning their loved ones.
In the comfortable West, we wring our hands and express our solidarity via Facebook and Twitter, from the remote safety of our lounges and offices. We shake our heads and tut and tsk as we read the column inches, pouring out disapproval by proxy, sharing our inability to comprehend, expressing our horror and hate via the safety of a keyboard.
But all around the world, families are mourning their loved ones.
We ask ourselves, “What would I have done? Would I have run? Would I have fought? Would I just have laid down and died?” The truth is that for many, there was no decision. Oblivion arrived by bullet or by blast, unthinking, uncaring – and unexpected. No choices were made, no opportunity given for courage or cowardice. No last words. No final expressions of love or regret. No flash of lifetimes before their eyes.
Just oblivion, unasked.
I don’t believe in gods or demons. There are only people, and the good or bad they choose to do themselves. There are no excuses, no justification that can be laid at the feet of some higher being. Hate, resentment, revenge and fear are the driving forces of those who commit such acts of barbarity, and the fuel that feeds the flames of a thousand years and more of mutual, festering resentment.
These are not the tools we need to mend our broken world.
If we really want to heal the gaping wounds in humanity, we need love, understanding, respect and the genuine desire to end this cycle of death and revenge. Any idiot can pick up a gun and start shooting, or demand the means to build a bigger gun to make the other guy even more dead than he already is. Do we really imagine that ever more bombs raining from the sky will somehow bring peace? Just what level of stupidity does it take to believe that more boots on foreign soil all over again will miraculously work this time?
If you want to see different results, stop doing the same thing over and over and over again.
We are citizens of Britain, we are citizens of France, we are citizens of Syria, we are citizens of Lebanon, we are citizens of Israel, we are citizens of Iraq, we are citizens of Iran, we are citizens of America… We are citizens of the world. And what we as citizens must do is demand that our elected leaders spend as much time and resources on finding a peaceful solution to this as they do on their military plans for the madness of Mutually Assured Destruction. Because right now, our world is going to hell in a handcart just as assuredly as if one of them had pressed that Big Red Button.
What kind of world do you want to live in?
I want a world where our children can grow up in peace, without the threat of sudden and unasked for death, whether delivered by a bigoted bomber in a shopping centre or from the silent sky by a man in a missile silo a thousand miles away.
I want a world where I can end my days with contentment, knowing that we have embraced art and music and science and sharing and love and liberty above slaughter and selfishness.
And so, as I look at our wounded world, with victims still deafened from the blasts and loved ones still in shock, grasping for comprehension at the savage slaughter, I say this.
This is not just their fight.
This is our fight.
All of us.
We must all make the choice: peace, or endless, mindless war, with no victors and no vanquished, only death.
My heart bleeds. Does yours?