Monday, November 16th, 2015
I can’t even think of a title for this post. That is the simple truth. What happened in Paris on Friday cannot be summed up. The killings, bombings, wars everywhere – it cannot be summed up.
I debated with myself this morning about whether I was going to write anything today. I am not qualified to comment on the intricacies of what is going on in this world.
However, I am living in France.
When I started this blog it was with a view to describe French life. Loaning the lens of this foreigner’s eye. French life this weekend has lost some of its brightest. Everyone’s heart is heavy. It feels like a fog. You can still see through it, but it is there nonetheless.
I feel affected. My family is affected. I know that these atrocities are happening everywhere. Please do not tar me with the same brush as you would tar those who only seem to care about what happens in Europe. That is not me.
I have followed every single outrage that has happened across the world. I read. I try to understand what does not make sense.
But this has happened in France, where I am bringing up my children. I have a huge responsibility to teach my children as best I can about right and wrong. I have to teach my children to embrace life and not be afraid.
The lines are blurred. I feel like the world keeps moving the goalposts.
My children are as racially mixed as you can find. The blood in their veins from three countries, two continents. I listened to the descriptions of those who lost their lives on Friday. So many different nationalities, cultures, colours, religions. It is humanity that is targeted.
When I was a child in Ireland, practically every single day, the news contained some item about an atrocity commited in Northern Ireland. We were encouraged to talk about it in school.
I remember so distinctly, even today, how I felt about the Omagh bombing in particular. There was a group of Spanish schoolchildren visiting the town and some of those children lost their lives. This made me feel sick to my stomach and I haven’t forgotten the feeling. I felt so incensed. This attack was not carried out for me and my people.
“Not in our names”, we cried.
Sometimes, when I introduce myself here as Irish, people start to ask me about Northern Ireland, and terrorism, and religion. It highly irritates me. How can anyone be expected to explain in a five minute introduction, a history that spans hundreds of years. The people who ask these questions aren’t even interested in a reply. They simply want to know what side I’m on. They want to define me.
My family brought me up to recognise a tragedy as a tragedy. Injustice as injustice. Life as a gift. And I cried when I saw the images of parents desperately seeking news of their adult children who were still unaccounted for after the horrors on Friday night.
I dread a terrible backlash now. If I have learned anything from growing up in Ireland it is that fear wins by the polarisation of people. Divide and conquer. We can’t let fear win. I refuse to let my children accept fear as a normal way of life.
Since the refugee crisis errupted here in France, I have heard sickening thoughts pronounced. I have had “Friends” share ignorant, uncivilised propaganda. But I won’t “unfriend” them. I will however continue to comment on this propaganda and I will keep calling it that.
I won’t let people pigeon-hole me or our children. We will teach our children to accept a person standing before them as a person. It’s all we can do. Some may call me idealist like it’s a bad thing, but isn’t idealism what we need. Isn’t that what we need to teach. There is right, justice, civility, kindness, acceptance,love.
We have to teach people to keep striving for that. We must remember the dead and we must keep living as best we can.