Op-ed: We need more compassion in the world

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Blog PostOp-EdI’m a news junkie. It’s a side-effect of studying journalism. I get news notifications of every bad thing that happens in the world. I’m also a millennial. The first thing I do after reading the news is check social media to see how my friends are reacting.

After I heard about the Paris Attacks, my timelines and feeds were flooded with images of the Eiffel Tower. People’s profile pictures were overlaid with the red, white and blue of the French flag, and people were mourning with those in Paris. Everyone knew. Everyone cared. Everyone showed support. Tout le monde est devenu parisien.

After the attack in Brussels, I saw the same outpouring of support. As I scrolled through Instagram, every post I saw was a graphic of the Belgian flag with “Je suis Bruxelles” written somewhere on it. People overlaid their profile pictures in red, yellow and black. I noticed this again after the Orlando shooting. A constant flood of pride flags and #WeAreOrlando covered my feeds.

Seeing this outpour of love, support and unity warmed my heart and gave me hope in humanity. There’s so much hate but there’s also a lot of love.

Now, I want to recap the most recent attacks that have shaken the world:

June 28, 2016: Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport came under attack. Forty-five people were killed and over 200 people were wounded.

July 1, 2016 – Five men attacked a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh and held the patrons hostage. In the end, 21 people were killed.

July 3, 2016 – Two bombs went off in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The death toll stands at 200, 25 of those killed were children.

July 4, 2016 – Three separate attacks occurred in Saudi Arabia. One in Medina by the Prophet’s Mosque, two in Qatif by a Shia mosque and one in Jeddah by the U.S. Consulate.

Do you know what I saw on my newsfeeds? Vacation pictures and Fourth of July celebrations. I saw one post about the attack in Dhaka; it was praising the bravery and selflessness of a student from Emory University who stayed behind and died with his friends.

It hit me that we only care about these attacks as long as the lives lost were Western. We see these other countries as less “civilized,” and therefore, we see the lives of their citizens as less important. Tragedy struck in these cities, and no one seems to care.

We are sending the message that only Western lives matter. We do this by not only ignoring the aforementioned tragedies but by ignoring the cries for help from those who flee from their homes in the hopes of a more peaceful life. It’s a message we cannot afford to send.

Terrorist groups gain recruits in a number of ways. They use fear to tap into the hate and loss in people. They empower those who have lost all hope by putting a weapon in their hands and telling them that they can make things “right” again. They key into raw emotions and bring out the worst in people.

We’re helping them. We do nothing to combat the notion that we don’t care about lives that aren’t Western. We prove their point for them when we know tragedy strikes and act like nothing happened.

Is our culture’s Islamophobia the problem? Probably. But we’re ignoring another factor. We see ourselves as better and more civilized. We see ourselves as more human. It’s a point of view that goes back to the Age of Enlightenment and imperialism. We dehumanize those who we deem as lesser, and we blame them for their tragedy.

I’m 21 years old. I’m fresh out of college, and I’m not going to pretend to know what the answer is. But I do know that the best way to combat hate is with love and compassion. I know we’re capable of it because I saw it with Paris, Brussels, and Orlando. But if the lives lost aren’t Western, we fail miserably.

Call me naïve. I’d just like to see more compassion in the world.

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Hannah Morris: Archeologist

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She stands in front of a class of 20 students in an olive green dress, long burgundy cardigan, and brown boots. She has one arm by her side and the other is up in the air.

She explained to the class that she had to get into this Superman-like position to get her shoulders through a tunnel in the Rising Star Cave System in South Africa. This tunnel, aptly named Superman’s Crawl, is very narrow and is less than 10 inches high, she said to the class.

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Photo Courtesy of Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris, a Ph.D. student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, was part of an all-female dig crew, which helped with the excavation and discovery of Homo naledi, an ancestor to anatomically modern humans.

Morris has always had a curious, independent and adventurous nature, said Billy Morris, her father. Her curiosity and sense of adventure, coupled with her caving and climbing experience made it so it was no surprise when Morris was chosen by South African archaeologist, Lee Berger, to work at Rising Star in South Africa. Continue reading

Responding to the haters

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Originally published by the Student Press Law Center in their Spring 2015 Report Magazine.

It’s customary for the editor in chief of The Daily Princetonian to write a letter from the editor in the last issue of the year. Outgoing editors often reflect on changes to the student newspaper, the year’s biggest news events and their learning moments running a student newspaper.

As Marcelo Rochabrun, former editor in chief of The Daily Princetonian, sat down to write his own farewell, he tackled what he saw as the biggest issue during his time as editor.

“It’s hard being a student journalist at Princeton these days,” Rochabrun wrote. Continue reading

Teacher talk: Professors’ fight to speak openly often isn’t easy

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Originally published by the Student Press Law Center in their Spring 2015 Report Magazine.

Having accepted a tenured professorship at the University of Illinois, Steven Salaita resigned from his job at Virginia Tech and was ready to go to the public institution’s Urbana-Champaign campus — until university officials rescinded their offer about three weeks before classes started. Continue reading

Hip-hop hassle: How the lyrics of two violent rap songs could redefine your online free-speech protections

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Originally published by the Student Press Law Center in their Spring 2015 Report Magazine.

Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man in the midst of losing his job and his wife, turned to Facebook to write violent rap lyrics under the pseudonym Tone Dougie. He was subsequently arrested in December 2010 after his estranged wife and law enforcement found his lyrics were threatening. Continue reading

Pa. high school students protest warnings to avoid ‘irresponsible’ speech

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Originally published by the Student Press Law Center on April 27, 2015.

PENNSYLVANIA — About two dozen students at a suburban Pittsburgh high school staged a protest Monday after school and police officials told students they could face criminal charges if they spoke about teachers’ pending sexual assault and victim intimidation investigations. Continue reading

U. of South Carolina student newspaper editor says photo from marijuana rally could have led to thefts

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Originally published by the Student Press Law Center on April 21, 2015.

SOUTH CAROLINA — As students at the University of South Carolina rallied for the legalization of marijuana on Monday, one man held a sign that read, “Peace, Love, Weed.”

When his picture appeared on the front page of the student newspaper on Tuesday, he wasn’t happy. He asked staff at The Daily Gamecock to remove the image from the student news organization’s website and from social media, but his request was denied.

At about the same time, hundreds of copies of Tuesday’s issue disappeared more quickly than normal. Daily Gamecock Editor-in-Chief Hannah Jeffrey said she first believed a distribution error led to the shortage until security camera footage showed they were stolen. Stacks of Tuesday’s issue were found in a recycling bin. Continue reading