A Mexican Illustrator's Map Is Starting An Important Conversation About Unbalanced Responses To International Tragedies

"Have we been conditioned to think that life is just ‘like that’ in the Middle East?"

The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester were met with overwhelming outrage and sadness from Americans (as well as others around the world) and the American media, that same outpouring of grief was less evident following recent acts of terror in Tehran and St. Petersburg.

The exact reasons why the responses differ are complicated and, as some may argue, not entirely known, but the contrast is almost impossible to ignore. While the attacks in the U.K. spurred days of news coverage, social media hashtags, and repeated cries for better monitoring of extremists, the reaction to the Tehran and St. Petersburg attacks paled in comparison.

One color-coded map created by Mexico-based illustrator Eduardo Salles is attempting to illustrate what has become known internationally as "selective grieving." Although the map is clearly hyperbolic in nature, it has the potential to start a powerful conversation about how and why we experience empathy following terror attacks — and how we might extend that empathy to be more inclusive.


Per Attn:, Rice University sociology professor Craig Considine shared an English translation of the  "Tragedy World Map" on Twitter on June 7.

According to Salles' map illustrating selective grief, the United States and other economically powerful countries (such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and much of western Europe) are typically are seen as receiving an empathetic response from the international community following an attack. Other countries are believed to garner less empathy.

Two years ago, following terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, reporter Michael Koziol wrote about the experience of selective grief in an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, advocating that people not shame those who experience it, but instead, encourage them to widen their perspectives.

"Grief is not a competition to be the most even-handed, the most objective, the least corrupted. Grieving is personal, subjective, uncontrollable," he wrote. "If you feel the need to pray or cry for the people of Paris — because you've walked their streets, befriended their people, lived their lifestyle — then you should do so, freely and without the judgment of others. But challenge yourself... to go a step further."

Cover image via lonndubh / Shutterstock.com.


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