Do you remember the original Star Trek series? Screened initially in 1966, the sci-fi show was renowned for – besides dodgy sets and hammy acting – its messages of peace, equality and enlightenment.
The ethnically diverse cast was ground-breaking in its make-up, as it included among others a Russian and an African-American woman at a time when the US was worried about the Cold War and African-Americans were struggling for equality.
Of course, for Gene Roddenberry, it was easy. To achieve peace on Earth in the Star Trek world, Roddenberry just had to add it to a script.
Likewise, he wanted a galaxy where a federation of evolved, enlightened beings benignly watched over the universe and kept the peace.
If only real life could be so easy.
If only half-an-hour’s concentrated banging about on a keyboard could ensure peace on Earth.
Perhaps then we wouldn’t see suicide bombers kill 43 people and wound 239 in Lebanon just hours before a co-ordinated series of attacks on Paris left 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, many critically.
These attacks followed closely on from the crash of a Russian aircraft, which is now thought to have been brought down by a bomb.
So why the Star Trek analogy? Because like most people, the current global unrest is breaking my heart.
Because like most people, I am wishing for world peace and enlightenment.
Because like most people, I don’t have a magic wand and I cannot do very much to change the state of the world.
We hear a lot about “slacktivism”, the new habit people have of commenting on a Facebook post, responding to a blog entry or adding their name to an online petition, but not doing much else to help a cause.
Some of the criticism is actually fair, but let’s not forget that for many people, adding that blue, white and red overlay to their Facebook signature is also an expression of grief for the ordinary people who have died.
There are some huge global issues at play. From the best way to deal with Islamic State to the future of Europe’s open border, world leaders are debating some huge issues.
And as the issues become bigger, the focus on the ordinary people – from Beirut to Paris and beyond – seems to blur and fall out of focus.
Ordinary people from a Beirut marketplace to a Parisian restaurant and concert hall have been murdered and their families have been left devastated.
So yes, it’s quite likely that a hefty number of social media users are posting and reposting memes overlays because it’s trending.
But surely it’s also likely many social media users are simply recognising that just as they have been going about their everyday lives, so were the people eating in a restaurant or cheering a well-placed boot in that France versus Germany friendly?
It is the very unremarkable nature of what the attack victims were doing that makes their deaths seem particularly horrific.
Perhaps instead of slacktivism, what we’re seeing could be acknowledgement that people going about their daily lives have been struck down and that it could just as easily be us.
The issues are huge and the death toll seems likely to continue climbing, and the world seems to be acknowledging that no one is beyond the reach of terrorism.
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