This week I'm supposed to be writing on my trip to Greece. I visited Athens and Santorini and have plenty to say. But, I just don't feel like I can say it. A swarm of confusing feelings have taken over and until I get them out, I won't be writing anything. So Greece is pushed to next week.
This past weekend has been an emotional storm worldwide. Japan suffered a significant natural disaster. Lebanon withstood terrorism. To go into all the horrors of the weekend would unfortunately take far too long, but I encourage everyone to follow up on them. Now, I'm only going to focus on one of them, the one that's affected me the most, personally. This week I will be writing about the terror attacks on Paris.
I was in Switzerland visiting relatives when I saw the tweet. One small tweet on a small situation. It was late, I was tired, and everyone in the house was sleeping. I didn't know what was going on, but I didn't freak about it at first. I guess I've started becoming almost accustomed to the fear of shootings and small bombs. That's what living in the States your whole life will do to someone, I suppose. Within a few minutes, though, that small tweet on a small situation turned ginormous. My senses heightened. In frantic desperation, my friend and I scavenged the depths of the Internet picking up every little fragment of an idea along the way.
We had friends there. Five Emerson students also studying abroad had decided to spend one of our last weekends in the beautiful city of Paris. Our fear for their lives outweighed our complete acknowledgment of the situation. It wasn't until almost an hour after their confirmed safety, I really let the attacks sink in.
Those who feel it necessary to compare tragedies have related this to the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, a seemingly reasonable comparison to make. What it adds to the conversation, I'm not entirely sure. What it means about our world, I'm also not entirely sure. But it's been made.
I was five when the twin towers fell. Living in Connecticut, I was more than familiar with the city and the towers, much more than I am with Paris. But, I was five. I was a five year old in the hospital with a stomach bug confused why my mother wasn't answering me, confused what the big deal was. Why were people crying? Why was my family calling nonstop? Why couldn't I just sleep? I lacked a solid understanding of the attacks. I lacked the terror the rest of the country suffered.
This time is different. If I look out my window at this very moment, I am staring at France. There's Switzerland, Lake Geneve, and France. And call me crazy, but I want to be there. Not in a risk-my-life sort of way. Or in a thrill-of-the-ride sort of way. I want to understand. I need to understand. Maybe if I do—maybe if I can understand their fear—I can also understand their fearlessness.
Last week, I wrote my post on Paris. I talked about the other side of the city that isn't acknowledged amongst those who don't have to. What I failed to mention was the inspiring aura the city gives off. Pure revolutionary, persevering integrity. The French have gone through hell while somehow keeping their sense of pride and justice intact. They thrive off fear. It motivates them; it strengthens them. History has shown it; Charlie Hebdo has shown it; and this, too, will show it.
During my scavenge of the Internet, I came across photos and clippings of Parisians out during the attacks waving flags, singing, and holding signs. Hundreds were putting their lives on the line to make a statement. Even in the midst of the terror, they have the resilience to say it's not affecting them. They will not waver. They are not afraid. That's the French spirit that has survived and will continue to survive.
Yes, pray for Paris if that's your thing. Pray for the lost loved ones, the injured, and the terrified. But, don't pity the French; they're not to be pitied. They're to be learned from. Help guide them towards the just path they love to walk. Stand in solidarity as they yet again stand up for the righteous, the helpless, and the humane. Cheer them on as they show the demonic world their city cannot be controlled by fear. The French are slaves to no one. We are slaves to no one.