Why Changing Your Profile Picture to the Colors of France is not Enough

Soren Gordhamer
2 min readNov 14, 2015

The horrific events that have played out in France the last 48 hours have rocked the world. While many details are unknown, the fact that what seems like a sizable network of people could plan, orchestrate, and execute such a mass killing is shocking.

Facebook now is a flood of people with profiles showing support for France. I get it. And it misses the point. Neither really does President Obama saying this is “An act on all humanity.” What do we do with that?

The “humanity” that we see or Obama sees may be very different than what others experience on a day-to-day basis, especially those in parts of the world where they feel overpowered, unheard, and repressed.

While there are very cruel people in the world that need to be stopped at all costs, in any society there are going to be winners and losers … and the fundamental question for us is: How do we make space for everyone, including the voices of those who view themselves as losers? To what extent are we willing to listen to the suffering of others, so they feel heard and are less prone to act out violently?

So instead of changing our Facebook profile, which is easy and requires almost nothing of us, what if we take the time to hear the pain of those in our life and community? Ask them what they want to tell us, what has remained unexpressed, what remains unhealed. Then listen. Without a need to solve, fix, or explain. Just take them in.

What if we go where there has been hurt and are willing to listen and sit with the pain. It could a child, a partner, a friend, or a coworker… there is likely someone in each of our lives. If we really care about France and the world, lets make the time to hear the suffering of those around, and be willing to share your own.

Forget the Facebook profile. I know people mean well, but that is too easy. Lets do the world a service and begin to make space for pain and suffering, so we can all heal and where the conditions that give rise to such horrible acts like we have witnessed in France have less room to grow.