It’s taken me a while to put these words together. I do not want to misspeak. What happened on Friday, November 13th, 2015 is unimaginable, and I can only imagine what the victim’s friends and family and the people who were an audience to the horrors of that night are going through. I was luckily far away from anything that happened (even though the original plans for the night were to be around the area where the events occured, in the 10th and 11th arrondissements. For some reason, we changed plans last minute). I was in the 15th arrondissement at a friend’s apartment (near the Eiffel Tower). It seemed like a normal night. We were making mulled wine and telling stories. My friend received a message from a friend saying that they had heard what was going on in Paris and that she hoped that everything was going well. We were confused. What was happening in Paris? I then looked down at my phone to figure out what was going on and Fred was calling me.
“Where are you? Are you ok? Paris is being attacked, hostages are being taken,” where the first things that came out of his mouth when I answered the phone. I explained that I was ok, that I was in an apartment in the 15th. We then talked about how I should try to make it home (I now live in the suburbs of Paris). The last train out is near one in the morning, but I was too scared. Besides, the train I take passes right near the stadium. Then it was Uber. Uber stopped all traffic. To us, from the get go, staying put was the best idea.
It was a somber night as we watched T.V. to keep up with what was going on. What had felt like a casual, normal Friday to so many people throughout the city had become a nightmare. I could only keep thinking about how many lives had drastically changed, and how many innocent people had lost their lives.
The past week has been everyone glued to their phones, trying to keep updated about everything. Wednesday morning, I woke up to see gunshots on the news being fired in a neighborhood not too far away from where I lived last year. My guard has been up. I did not go out in Paris this weekend because I did not feel comfortable, a side effect of what is going on (which I know, I should not allow and I should continue to live my life). I have all my faith and respect in the police officers, fireman, and so forth who are putting their lives on the line to keep us safe.
What has amazed me, and what keeps giving me hope for the future, is the unity that Paris is under. I hope that one day, the world entirely can feel this sort of unity. As I walked down Boulevard Voltaire, where the Bataclan is located, flowers and candles were laid out, pictures of victims and notes for them and flags from all over the world were hanging in which people had written about peace and unity.
As much as I love Paris, as much as I have so much respect for France and as much as I am so grateful to this country for helping me become reborn, we should not forget that these kinds of things happen all over the world, every single day. Paris shocked the world because we believed we had learned after 9/11. We believed that after Charlie Hebdo nothing like that could happen again here, in the Western world. Things like this can never happen to us. The reality is, it can. We should fight it.
There’s a video that has gone viral of a little boy and his father who is explaining to him that “while the bad men may have guns, we have flowers”. We should fight back with peace. Football (soccer) games, rugby and so forth have been playing the Marseillese (national anthem of France) before the match. In Mexico, they played Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose beforehand.
What the attackers and Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) want is for us to become filled with hate. They have not succeeded. Instead, we became more united. Walking near the Bataclan, strangers were hugging each other. People of all skin colors and nationalities were united to remember what the real fight is about, coming to understand each others differences and fighting violence.
This happened in our home, on our streets, in our country. We should remember that this is a daily thing in so many other places. They too need help and a candle lit in their name.
Liberté, egalité et fraternité. The people who did this to Paris are afraid because we have that, but throughout history those three things have always won. We will win again so that all humans may have a right to them.
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