Facing Darkness: A Response to the Terrorist Attack in Egypt

I woke up this morning to some particularly disturbing news. If you haven’t already heard, 235 innocent people were killed when a mosque in Egypt was bombed and attacked by armed gunmen.  While Egypt has been known to be in an escalated state for some time now,  it still comes as a shock anytime anything like this happens. My thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected by this tragedy and all of my friends with family in Egypt.

After hearing this news, I began thinking about all of the other attacks and natural disasters that have gone on this year. There have been quite a few, especially since we started our trip. The earthquakes in Peru (while we were there) and Mexico, the flooding in Nepal and Peru, Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The list goes on. In fact, since we’ve been in Bali, I was woken up by the first earthquake I’ve ever been in and Mt Agung had a minor eruption.

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With everything going on around the world, it’s only natural that many people are hesitant to travel to certain places. Whenever we bring up potential travel plans with friends and family, there are a few locations that always seem to get some concerned remarks about whether or not we should go there. When the earthquakes in Mexico went off and the initial increase in volcanic activity was reported in Bali, I actually asked Shelby if we should reconsider some of our travel plans.

While I understand that these kinds of concerns have some validity and I appreciate when people are genuinely expressing their concern for our well being, I think there’s an important distinction to be made between responding to the gut fear reaction we all have and evaluating whether or not what’s causing the concern should dictate our next move.

Yes, I asked Shelby about potentially changing our plans to come to Bali for a month because of the initial Mt Agung reports. And yes, we actually did end up changing our plans… we decided to stay for longer. Why? Because when we did our own research and actually looked into what was going on, we realized that the chances of it actually affecting us negatively were pretty slim. In reality, we’ve probably indirectly benefitted from it since there aren’t as many other tourists here as normal. In no way am I equating this situation to what’s happening in Egypt, but what I am saying is that when these events happen, the kind that stir up fear, hatred and plenty of other negativity, we need to make sure we don’t act entirely out of emotion.

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One of the things I can’t stop thinking about is the fact that I was actually looking at flights to Egypt last night. We’re making our to way towards Europe and the best flight options from Singapore for our itinerary came down to England, India, Italy and Egypt. Ultimately we went with London, but it had very little to do with any foresight about the current political climate in Egypt. In all honesty, if the flight to England wasn’t significantly cheaper than the other options, there’s a decent chance I’d be headed to Cairo in a few weeks.

After posting a supportive message on my story, I got a response from a friend who hadn’t heard of the attack yet. She’s supposed to meet up with friends who are currently in Egypt 2 weeks from now and was obviously concerned about her upcoming trip the more she read about the incident. At one point she said that it scared her for her upcoming trip, to which I replied “Don’t let it.” I told her that she should be smart, but that the moment she allows the fear to control whether or not she went is the moment “they” win.

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I understand that you may disagree with me on this topic because of the immediate risk associated with this situation. And I recognize that this is a completely different kind of danger than a volcanic eruption that’s being heavily monitored by several sources. Regardless, I still feel that we can’t let the fear that comes from these kinds of threats control our decisions. When we opt out of traveling, whether it’s 15 hours away or only 15 minutes away, solely because we are afraid of what we’ve heard from other sources, we are doing ourselves a great disservice.

I can barely begin to describe how much I would have missed out on if I hadn’t come to Bali because I was scared of the volcano. Think about all the amazing cultures and people that some of us will never experience simply because of the stories we’ve heard about a country or how foreigners are supposedly treated in certain areas. And even though it’s a dangerous region of the world right now, I choose to focus on the fact that my friend could very well get to witness first hand how much good is in the world if people begin to band together to support the victims of the attacks while she’s in Egypt.

This is probably counterintuitive to most people’s thought process, but I am not discouraged from traveling when tragic events like this happen around the world. In many ways, I’m actually motivated to travel more. When I go somewhere new, I’m reminded how little I actually know about the world and how much I have left to see. These kinds of events remind me how precious the time we have on this planet is, and personally, I want to experience as much of the world as I can while it’s still untouched by the hatred, violence and negativity that a select few are determined to bring to it. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not what we’ve heard about a country’s places, people, food, etc. is true or not. What matters is that we experienced it for ourselves, and I encourage you to not allow any fear to strip you of an opportunity to go out and do just that.

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I pray for the victims in Egypt and I pray that we can all focus on the light that can still come from a situation like this.

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