As a casual observer of my Facebook feed this weekend I of course couldn’t help but notice all the profile pictures adorned with the French flag appearing in my feed. As a poor student with no TV licence and no love for the BBC news website, social media was the first place I learned of the tragedy in Paris and the terrible loss of life that occurred last weekend.
It is amazing how the digital world has rallied together to support the cause, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and many more that I haven’t yet come across. At first I was sceptical of what good a flag on your profile picture could do. It felt a lot like that one time everyone put their favourite cartoon character as their picture for no apparent reason. Scrolling through the endless picture updates didn’t help, and I wondered what did Facebook or anyone hope to achieve? One opinion I heard voiced from one person for not adding the flag was that Paris was only one place in the world that unspeakable disaster had occurred in recent days, to not recognise them all would be insensitive. Another opinion I heard voiced from a flag adorned profile was that Prince Charles was ‘racist’ for his views on the matter. I am not a fan of the Prince, but to summarise his point he stated “if you live in our country, abide by our values” and I can’t see anything racist about that. Britain is for the most part peaceful, it has its faults but our values in my opinion are not adverse to any race or peoples who also value peace.
It was hearing this that swayed my decision to add the flag to my profile picture. Disaster happens all over the world more than we like to think about, be it natural or man-made. War, shootings, famine, disease, earthquakes, they are all events we wouldn’t wish on anyone. But Paris was the result of a select few with a deadly wish against their fellow human beings and Western culture on our doorstep. My culture.
I added the flag for the sake of those who can no longer enjoy the freedom that our culture affords us, who had that taken from them too soon. I may have terrible student loans, questionable knowledge of politics and the inability to afford car insurance but I still have freedom. Freedom of speech, to vote, to aspire for any job role I want, to complain about the price of education and to wear what I please! These are the British values that the Prince was talking about. The value of freedom, to walk to school or work, or to go to a concert without fear. To be a woman with the ability to speak freely.
I added the flag for my way of life, to speak out against the minority who do not believe in peace. Whatever race, religion or gender you identify yourself as does not concern me. Show the flag for freedom. Show it for peace. Show it for unity. But please, do not show it for hatred of the few who caused this, they don’t deserve that kind of recognition.
Paris we mourn with you, we stand with you, and we wish for peace.