Canary in a Coal Mine

A canary stops singing when the coal mine air becomes poisonous. They stop singing because they are dead.

Some events shock you out of words. Words seem superfluous, insincere, and worst of all – utterly useless. What use are words? Angry words, sad words – what good are you?!

You kill no terrorist. You wipe no tear.You are a pathetic excuse for a bandage. Many times you injure instead of help. Aren’t I just a lone voice drowned out in the cacophony of helplessness?

But if words are terrible – silence is worse. Silence is complicit. Cold. And unfeeling.

Silence is cowardice.

Even if words are clumsy, misused, or downright offensive – at least we are speaking out in freedom – in our own broken, imperfect way.

In this modern world – one word amiss in this click happy universe- means all kinds of insults can be flung in your direction- aspersions on your very nature – so speech is reduced to platitudes. “I am so sorry France – we stand with you!” – “Wait, why aren’t you talking about Beirut? Or Russia? Kenya?” – Even platitudes have become offensive. So speech is reduced to – silence.

Or worse. Reduced to faux-outrage at anything other than the bombs, shootings, and executions of the people in Paris. It becomes outrage at Republicans. Outrage at Facebook friends. Outrage at some nameless twitter feed. Outrage at anything else – but at the murderous ideology that resulted in the well planned and executed murder of more than 129 people. And this ideology isn’t dying – it’s growing.

When before the bodies of the dead are even cold, people are already patronizingly warning the French against their islamophobic rage filled tendencies.

When words for true outrage are truly needed – we find their arsenal empty- impotent.

These are the people who torched our synagogues.

These are the people who gunned down cartoonists.

These are the people who behead innocent people in broad daylight and revel in it.

A call to moderation isn’t going to stop these people. In a battle of ideas – the ones willing to kill and die for their ideas will win against a passive majority.

When more British Muslims are enlisting into ISIS than the British army – you have a problem.

When the Jewish population have fled France – again – you have a problem.

When the truth has become so offensive to people’s ears – you have to warn them first – you have a problem.

If the West continues to delude ourselves about the extent of the problem – the body count will grow. Bodies of Christians -who slowly are becoming an endangered species in the Middle East. Bodies of Jews. Bodies of Yazidis. Bodies of Muslims.

Hezbollah, ISIS, Assad, Radical Shi’a clerics, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, all tearing at each other’s throats – in a bid for more power, more control- killing whoever they deem to be infidels.

There are ideas worth dying for – freedom. Justice. Kindness. Goodness of humanity.

Where is our sense of self-worth? Is there any fight left in us?

All I see in the faces of the survivors is pure anguish. The anguish of a people. And of nations around the world. I see red, blue, and white lights being lit in spite of this ungodly darkness. The darkness created by hatred in the name of God.

The world has descended into chaos around us.

Open your mouth and speak up. Now – open your ears. And listen hard.

The canary has stopped singing.

About the Author
I grew up in Baltimore, the last of five girls born to two parents who escaped Soviet Russia. After I graduated Emory University, I made aliyah and served in the IAF. Now I am studying for my master's degree in International Relations at Hebrew University.
Related Topics
Related Posts