How do I start a blog post about a topic where I struggle to find words? Last Friday’s Paris attacks have left me speechless, motionless, sad, worried, angry. Paris is an important city in my life, I also call it a second home. Many people I love live there, people I care about and people I was worried about when I learned the dreadful news on Friday evening. Once I knew everyone was ok, I expected relief. But that moment of relief lasted but a second. I was numb while watching the news, hearing details I did not want to hear, seeing places I know and did not want to see in this context – and one thought circled my mind: My friends could have been there. I could have been there (in fact I passed two of the locations just last weekend). In fact, anyone of us could have been there. What’s wrong with the world we live in?
I started this blog post two days ago but I was unable to finish it. I needed a few more days of ’emotional distance’ to recuperate my mind. I am terrified for what happened not only in Paris – this happens all the time at places we little know. And our media care little. It was only after the Paris attacks that I heard of similar attacks in Beirut. I am terrified for the people suffering, people who lost their beloved ones through such perfidious, coward attacks. And I realized that this is not a story about Paris even though Paris has been affected so much this year. This is about all of us. About our lives, our choices, our freedom. It scares me to think of this as a sort of third world war that knows no battlegrounds but targets our daily lives. And I ask myself: Will I be scared to travel in future? Will I be afraid next time I am in Paris? Will I go out and have dinner in the 11th arrondissement? Will I go and see a show in a Paris theatre?
For me there can only be one answer to that question: No, I will not let terror define my life and my lifestyle. I will not be scared. And Paris will remain my city of choice and the place where I will return constantly. It is home to people I love and I love the city as a whole. It is a city that celebrates life, it is not a city defined by terror. And it will not be. I am deeply sorry for the people who lost someone beloved, for them this will leave a mark for life, but it is up to us to stand against this terror. We must not give in. We must be stronger and we will be. Paris will be stronger. Beirut will be stronger. Any city struck by cowards will be stronger.
It is hard to go back to normal life, to a daily routine while the thoughts keep circulating around the recent events. But I believe in a better future. For the sake of all of us. And I want to close this blog post with a great quote I have seen recently, one by Martin Luther King, Jr. It speaks from my heart: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Photography by Igor Josifovic