Words are hard to come by after the horrible terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris last night, however, I felt that a short reflection was needed. It really hit me hard this time as they attacked more than this city and its people; they attacked life and the pursuit of happiness itself.
It was almost one year ago today, November 16th, 2014, that I was at a concert at the Bataclan. I remember how incredibly excited I was to see my favorite hip hop artist, Common, live for the first time ever. I remember entering the beautiful theatre and the sense of unity shared by everyone as we all smiled and sang the same lyrics together in unison. I was so close to the stage that I could almost reach out and touch him! What a thrill! We were all at that concert to enjoy his music and to dance and feel alive. I was on a cloud of happiness after that concert, filled with the feeling that the world was an amazing place. Last night the people at the rock concert probably had the same feelings of anticipation and excitement. They probably screamed and cheered when the concert began and felt the incredible rush that music can sometimes bring. Like myself, they were there to have fun and forget their troubles…but unfortunately their evening transformed into horror.
I have been several times to Le Petit Cambodge, the restaurant near Canal Saint Martin that makes super yummy noodle dishes (they are especially known for their “bobuns”) and that was sprayed with bullets last night. I have fond memories of sitting outside in their colorful chairs with friends one summer night and equally another time inside, with a friend, where it was super crowded and we were elbow to elbow with the people beside us (but we didn’t mind one bit). This place is well known in Paris and is very popular, and as the temperature has been fairly mild lately in Paris, I’m sure it was packed with hungry diners.
Basically, the thing that shook me up the most was the fact that it could have been me, or my friends, that were attacked by these monsters and I realize just how lucky I was have had a night that did not end in such a traumatic manner.
So as I’ve already said, they attacked more than a city last night. They attacked innocent civilians who only wanted to enjoy their Friday night in whichever way brought them joy. Parisians love their Friday nights (and Saturdays too)! They love to go out for drinks, enjoy a good meal with good company, dance at a concert and live in the moment! These terrorists attacked the right to sit out on a terrasse and enjoy a cheese plate with a glass of wine, or simply a round of beer with friends. They attacked the right to dance like no one is watching or to sing to a song that you have sung along to for years and that has perhaps got you through some tough times. They basically said that everything Paris stands for should die. But it won’t.
Today, while going to get my groceries I overheard a Muslim mother talking to her son of about 4 years old in the street. She said “There are Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists and we should respect everyone and their religion”. The boy looked up, slightly puzzled, and she continued; “we should never treat others badly because they are different, because the world is full of differences, and that is what makes it beautiful.” I looked over at her and smiled, then the traffic light changed and I crossed the street. I couldn’t help thinking that if every child had someone to teach them such compassion and acceptance, then these monsters would not be able to brainwash impressionable young people with their hateful messages and turn them into inhuman killing machines.
I can only hope that Paris will recover from these horrors while keeping its soul and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those who lost a loved one. I also hope that other cities in the world who have equally suffered from similar attacks, but which are not as “famous” as Paris, will receive the world’s support as we have seen over the last 24 hours. My heart breaks for Paris, but it is the city of love, light, freedom, music, art, culture, drinking wine and skipping home in the streets after a great night out and, in my mind, will always be capable of healing and shining bright again.