Leo Tolstoy said that all happy families are alike but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and I think that’s bollocks. I travel all the time and every country I’ve visited (if you think of it as a family) has its own character, rules, quirks and individuality. I have friends and acquaintances all over the world including people from countries that have been affected by terrorism. Americans who saw the towers fall. A Norwegian who waited to hear if her daughter had been shot by Anders Breivik. I was in London with a friend on the day of the 7/7 bombings. Right now, I have friends from Paris who are suffering. (Not to mention all of the people NOT in or from Paris, waiting to hear if their loved ones are alive.)
You know what? The attacks may have been different but every single person I know affected by terrorism has been asking the same questions and suffering the same way: Why kill innocent people? Why use the cover of religion? What do people do? How can we fight in this age of technology? Why? Why? Why?
To quote Tolkien (or King Theoden): “What can we do against such reckless hate?”
I don’t know.
As I was working on this blog but didn’t want to ignore everything that has happened in the meantime, I changed my facebook profile to the French colours but merely doing this and saying you’ll pray is, in my opinon, not the best thing you can possibly do. “Raising awareness” is a social media construct that I’ll blog about another day. We are all aware right now. So I had a look online to find out of there was anything more than prayers and flags to share. If you’re posting on social media, here are things you can include:
– The Foreign Office helpline. (This is for those with family and friends they wish to check on.) 020 7008 1500
– Donate to the relief appeal through the French Red Cross or Medicins sans Frontieres (doctors without borders)
– If you are local to Paris, donate blood. (Obviously, a lot of people have gunshot wounds).
– Share #PorteOuverte (“open door”). Parisians are opening their homes to stranded people. Others are now using it around the world for people who are stranded due to these events.
I’m safe. My friends and family are safe. I cannot imagine what it is like to wait for news right now. I am not Paris. But I am horrified and frightened as I leave for Belgium in a few hours- by coach, through London, the Channel Tunnel and France. Well done, terrorists- you have terrified me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going. That doesn’t mean you’ve won. While you watch the news and congratulate yourself on your bloodshed, look for the aid workers. Look for the good people. They’re right there onscreen and there are more of us than there are of you.
You are in my thoughts and prayers, Paris.
p.s. As this blog is a quote-y blog, here’s another:
“Whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he has killed all of humanity”