What happened in Paris on Friday, November 13th shocked me to the core.
I was getting ready to go out with a friend and when we postponed, I sat at the computer and saw what was going on.
And I texted my family to make sure they were safe, that no one we knew was at the soccer game, that my dad didn’t take my nephew there like they’ve done before because they love soccer and we live close by. I remember going with my Dad years ago to watch France against Scotland in that stadium.
And I cried. A lot.
On that day and the days that followed, I cried. And I called home. And my husband hugged me a lot.
I reached out to friends who I knew were in Paris, and to friends who I didn’t know if they were in Paris that evening or not.
They were okay. But people died. Families will never be the same.
Like they died in Lebanon, like they die in Syria and many other countries. I knew it, but I didn’t realize what this meant.
Seeing Paris like this…it became real. And it’s sad to say this, that before, I hadn’t realized, I hadn’t wanted to realize because the pain is strong.
Maybe, it’s because every single time I went back to Paris, and sat in a cab to whatever business trip I was going to, a wave of happiness came over me, a wave of memories, of my childhood, of admiring and loving this city. Friday night in Paris, for me, is all about chatting about the world, laughing, drinking wine and eating. It’s going to a concert, or to a soccer game.
And I’m sorry that it took something so close to make me realize more bitterly what millions of people are going through every single day.
I had no words. And I still don’t have any answers.
I took a step back from social media because what I saw and keep on seeing there angers me, it also makes me sad, and it scares me. The hate and simplistic answers scare me. The judgement, the spread of lies. There should be a button called “have you fact-checked this before liking, commenting, sharing?” on Facebook…and then there should be another one that says “are you sure, are you really sure you want to do this?”, “I understand you’re scared, but that’s not the solution.”, “And if you’re not scared, then what’s your reasoning because I don’t get it. And if you’re scared, maybe just say you’re scared instead.”
Seeing the news about Muslim people being attacked in France in retaliation sickens me. It scares the shit out of me to see how people can react with so much hate towards innocent people, like the ones they’re claiming to fight.
I don’t have the answers, I don’t know the answers, but I know my answer is not and will not be to spread more hate. It will not be to change who I am, and what I believe in.
Otherwise, they win.
And who is they? They’re not religious. They’re not representatives of the religion they claim to be killing for. They kill anyone. Sophie Aram said it better than me: “You only have to be alive and free to be a target of those assholes.” (her words in French in the video below resonate a lot with me).
They kill and don’t care who they kill.
Terrorism has no religion.
Terrorism has no fucking religion.
I don’t know if I believe in God, but I still remember how after one evening of catechism, our Priest told us that it was better to behave according to our values (helping people, being kind, forgiving…) and not be a believer, than to come to church and not follow those values.
I wonder if those values are remembered by those who claim themselves to be religious.
The refugees who are coming to Europe, they’re fleeing this violence, this hatred, those people. Shit, are we so quick to forget that little boy who drowned, whose face had become a reminder of our duties as human beings? Is there a risk? Of course, there is. Just like there’s a risk in Europe itself. After all, most of the attackers were from Europe.
The mastermind they’re looking for right now is from a middle class family, raised in Belgium, was not religious, was a petty criminal…
There are idiots everywhere, they are bad people everywhere. And people looking for a place to carry on heinous acts because they want to.
I am grateful for the policemen and everyone risking their lives for us.
I think this standing ovation at the National Assembly from politicians from all parties was a strong message.
I’m grateful for the rally of support near and far.
I am grateful for the ones who continue to make us smile.
There are problems that need to be addressed, problems within France, within the European Union, within the international community. This much is clear and can’t be denied. This much is true. Countries all around the world suffer from terrorism. Innocents are being killed every single day. But division is not the solution.
I believe in “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.”
I believe in Voltaire, and Zola, and Hugo…
I believe in humanity. There were acts of kindness, acts of courage.
I believe in critical thinking and am grateful for my high school professors who encouraged me to think, to question, to analyze. I’m grateful for my parents for leading by example.
I don’t know what we should do. What answers we should give.
But what I will do is that I will not make rash judgments. I will research, read in the languages I know to gain a broader perspective.
I will continue to read the uplifting messages coming from thousands of people, coming from people who have lost someone (like this man who lost his wife and mother of his child), coming from people who remind us how wonderful we all can be.
I will continue to think.
I will continue to try to make someone smile every day.
I will try to be better.