We watched with shock and horror with the rest of the world as reports of the Paris attacks came in. It is with a heavy heart that we think of those who lost their lives and whose lives will be changed forever by these events.

As social workers we understand that the terror inflicted on November 13th did not end that day. Because we understand the effects of grief and trauma, we recognize the need for those affected by this tragedy to be able to access the services needed to cope with these events.

While much remains unknown about the attacks and its perpetrators, we urge caution in the global response to this tragedy. Already, some are linking the terrorists responsible with the refugees seeking asylum in Europe. However, we must remember that this is precisely the type of violence so many refugees are fleeing in the first place. Furthermore, loose characterizations of “radical Islam” only serve to incite violence against Muslims worldwide.

We stand against these gross mischaracterizations. Social workers are committed to achieving social justice for all people because we recognize the inherent value of all humankind. The rush to label any group of people as evil due to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or any other identifying characteristic is contrary to our values. As such, social workers must stand against these forms of hatred, both in themselves, their loved ones, and the public at-large.

We recognize the human desire to find meaning in tragedy, perhaps even more so when it results from violence. But we must balance this desire with the search for truth. Too often the most vulnerable people are the easiest to blame–a trend that all nations still contend with in the form of discriminatory policies.

It is appropriate to mourn and even express outrage at these acts of violence, but we owe it to humanity–our own and all others’–to find solutions that do not continue this cycle of violence or deny those in need. We stand with the people of Paris and we stand with the people of Syria. We stand with all people affected by violence and urge peaceful solutions to the crises at hand–solutions that acknowledge the humanity of all.

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