Mourn and be angry after Brussels, but don’t forget who the real enemy is

In the Caribbean Sea some 200 miles off the coast of Miami, on an island that’s roughly the size of the state of Kentucky, two world leaders met to begin the process of normalizing a global relationship that has been nothing short of toxic for more than six decades.

On Monday, President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro joined hands — albeit very awkwardly — and expressed optimism that one day the long-isolated nation of Cuba can be reintegrated back into the international community.

It’s something that many presidents before Obama tried to accomplish, dating back to John F. Kennedy — just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest America has ever come to nuclear war — to no avail.

Yes, Cuba still has a lot to overcome, namely the restriction of free speech through persistent jailing of government dissidents, but to see two world leaders make the effort to establish peace in an increasingly hostile world is nonetheless encouraging.

Obama Castro.jpg

And then, less than 24 hours later, bombs exploded in Belgium.

It’s the nightmare authorities have for months been dreading ever since they learned of an extensive terrorist network that resides within the northwestern European country following last November’s Paris attacks.

Already this week, we’ve seen hope and terror at its finest. And it’s only Tuesday.

There’s no question we’re starting to become a bit desensitized to these tragedies. It’s also easy to compare today’s death toll — at least 30 — to the 130 who died in Paris four months ago and internalize that it’s not that bad.

But let’s not forget these are 30 innocent lives, and 30 families that are gravely affected. It usually takes names and faces, and personal life stories, to make the victims resonate with most people. Maybe this time, though, until those identities do come out, let’s just grieve and take a moment to acknowledge these 30 nameless people.

Typical cliches run rampant after such incidences. Phrases urging you to not give into fear,Brussels.jpg to not let anxiety over terrorism dictate your life, and to support love over hate. You know, the usual.

Here’s another one for you: don’t be stupid.

Fear-mongers relish these situations to pedal intolerance and manipulate others in their most vulnerable states. Don’t let them.

Instead of listening to an emphatic sound byte, maybe do a little bit of research on your own to better understand who the real enemy is. And that enemy is a small fraction of disillusioned people called ISIS who long ago traded away their humanity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t condemn Islam. Don’t blame all Muslims. Don’t hate someone because they’re not like you.

It’s so easy to do — I know. I understand that. But it’s also incredibly ignorant, and doesn’t do you justice as a human being. You’re better than that.

I certainly can’t tell you what to think. But if you feel like you need to point blame at some one, then I hope you’ll block out the outside noise and form your own opinion.

Because we can’t move forward unless we all understand who we’re against. And even more important, who our allies are.

I know where I stand.

Do you?

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Finally somebody has found the best possible use for cat memes

Am I really going to talk about cat memes for the second time in my last three blog posts?

Too late. I’ve already started.

The entertainment value of posting cat pictures is widely documented. It works in practically any situation.

Including, as the fine people of Brussels, Belgium have shown us in recent days, when a nation is on high alert of the threat of terrorism.

Last week’s Paris attacks have had far-reaching implications, including in neighboring Belgium, the location where not only the suspected (and recently deceased) mastermind of the attacks grew up, but where other suspects implicated in the carnage are believed to be hiding.

Belgian catsConsequently, the typically thriving and tourist infested city has been paralyzed in recent days as Belgian military and police scour the area. Residents have been told to stay inside, and schools, museums, markets and public transportation have all been closed. During the hunt, 21 people have been detained, and police on Tuesday tweeted a photo of a man whose capture has clearly has become a top priority.

In cooperation with their search, police urged residents to not post any information of their whereabouts on social media out of concern that it may tip off terrorists.

But in today’s technological age, it seems like an unrealistic request, doesn’t it? People are obsessed with social media and receiving up-to-the-second news. Asking them to resist posting information on it is like asking Nicki Minaj to stop making bad music. It’s just what they do.

However, not only have the Belgians obeyed the request, but they’ve done so with a great sense of lightheartedness and levity — by posting humorous cat photos alongside the hash tag #BrusselsLockdown.

It’s provided a way for people to connect with their countrymen during a Belgian cats2fearful time, and I can’t think of any better way to utilize cat photos than this.

Even the police subtly got in on the fun by thanking its residents on Twitter alongside a photo of cat food.

I feel like if an American city was on lockdown, and police requested secrecy, some despicable blogger would post an update of their coordinates every two minutes.

Hey, don’t look at me! I’m not that big of a douche.

But I just want to take this moment to say that Belgians have won some serious respect from me. Even in the midst of terror, they’re able to show some personality and spirit. Before this, the only Belgian commodity I held in high regard was waffles. Not any more.

And it just goes to show — we may all look differently and speak different languages, but we’re all united in the name of silly cat memes.

ISIS, you can never take that away from us.