some thoughts and feelings after the Paris attacks

There’s nothing like a horrific event to shake us all up. That’s been very true this past week since the attacks in Paris. It can be clearly seen all over social media and everyone reading this has most likely talked about the recent events with family and friends. It’s only natural that many people immediately wanted to share their thoughts and feelings, it’s a good coping mechanism. I would know that because I share my thoughts and feelings all the time and it often just feels good to get it off my chest. It’s one of the reasons why I like tweeting and blogging. I was questioning whether or not I should even write anything related to what recently happened in Paris because people often get offended by events being “politicized” for certain agendas, but I shouldn’t hold back from simply sharing my thoughts out of fear of silly criticism.
It didn’t take long for #PrayforParis to pop up on Twitter and Facebook and polar opposite tweets and statuses that condemned religion(mostly just Islam). I of course joined in to say my piece on Twitter. My initial reaction when I heard the news was a tweet saying that I was horrified and even though it didn’t mean much that my heart went out to the victims and their families. When I typed that, I sat there stared at it for a while before I clicked “Tweet” because I wasn’t sure if I should even say anything. It’s not like it personally affected me, I’ve never been to Paris and I don’t know anyone there, and like I admitted in my tweet my feelings didn’t actually mean much to the greater scheme of things. I decided to go ahead and click because as I said before it sometimes just feels good to say things. So when it comes to people who were saying they were praying for Paris, I do understand where they’re coming from in terms of it feeling good to share thoughts and feelings. But I guess it’s the militant atheist in me, I can’t help but be bothered by people praying after a horrific event, especially one that was driven by religious extremism.
The reasoning behind praying after any sort of awful thing never makes sense to me. Why would he care if people are asking for his help and attempting to send them their good vibes if he allowed it to happen in the first place? To me god often sounds like a shitty delinquent dad that’ll only help out when people beg really hard for it. Does god stop paying attention to certain people and parts of the world if he’s not being praised enough? Besides it being very illogical, I’m mostly bothered by people believing their prayer will have any sort of impact on the world. When people think that way they’re less likely to find ways to actually help those in need. I also get a sense of smugness from Christians that say they are praying after an Islamic terrorist attack, it’s as if they want to try to remind the world that their religion is better. Even though Christianity isn’t connected to some of the same sorts of things Islam is, I think they’re equally destructive to the world.
To all the people that prayed for Paris, I have to ask, don’t you think the terrorists prayed before they went out that night? Their religious beliefs fueled their hatred and actions. They didn’t stop to think about consequences or the lives of the people they were taking and their loved ones because their extremist views dehumanized their victims. They most likely thought god would be impressed with their actions. Also, what’s the point in worrying about punishments from a secular government if they will be rewarded for their loyalty to their faith when they get to heaven? It’s for reasons like this I get sick of people defending religious beliefs like prayer and heaven. There’s often a positive focus on those subjects and people neglect to see any sort of dark side to them.
People often don’t want to question or blame religion because they conflate it with race. Religion is a system of beliefs and rituals, people of many races can belong to the same religion. It’s astonishing to me sometimes that people can’t grasp that concept. There have been a few times where people have argued with me that religion isn’t to blame and that religion is just used to justify bad things. It makes me imagine that they always think of terrorists as being like Die Hard villains that actually have ulterior motives. It’s very difficult for me to understand what other motives the terrorists had besides their religious beliefs, especially since they said themselves they did it for that reason. Religious extremists are rarely kept in a bubble from religion until they’re adults, just like most of the world they were brought up with it. I definitely do not think all Muslims are terrorists or hate them in anyway, if anything I think they are victims of Islam just like the rest of the world, but I think we should question the theology and the major religions in general. I’m often flabbergasted that it’s not clearer to people how religion divides and holds humanity back, hopefully more people can wake up before things get worse.