Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nous sommes tous Parisiens

(Jean Jullien / Twitter)
We have been injured by November 13th, but we can't let it defeat us.

This morning, I took a look at the calendar and made a joke about Friday the 13th. "I'll just blame any misfortune I face on bad luck." I had no idea.

As the work day came to a close, I found myself lurking on social media and there was no denying something had struck the world hard and fast. My Twitter feed was a flowing river of retweeted news articles, concerned hashtags, claims of astonishment. "#PrayforParis." "Nous sommes tous Parisiens."

It is not my nature to get involved in political arguments or breaking news crazes online, but in a moment like this it felt almost callous to "Keep Calm and Carry On" as the phrase goes. I wanted to help, even if it was in the smallest of ways. By sharing positive thoughts or retweeting helpful information, I was able to assist in what little way I could from my remote location away from the scene of the chaos. My drive to act was instinctual and unplanned. It was an automatic impulse driven by a mix of fear and concern for the many strangers living thousands of miles away whom I don't know and may never get to know. I felt what I believe to be the true meaning of love despite not being acquainted with a single victim.

In these moments of tragedy, we are able to find and share our best selves. We discover our capacity for empathy, our attachment to our loved ones, our desire to help others -- even strangers. We forget the petty trials of day-to-day life and remember what it means to be human.

We can't let all of that be forgotten next week when the headlines have changed.

In the coming days, weeks, months, and even years, it is our responsibility not to forget what happened in Paris. Not to ignore it, and not to return to life as it was before today.

There was a sentiment I heard expressed in an interview with a Parisian a few hours after the attacks were first reported. Yesterday we had freedom, he said. But tomorrow everything will be different.

Paris is forever changed, and humanity is also forever changed.

That isn't to say every moment moving forward should be lived in fear of a potential repeat incident. Or that we must spend the rest of our days in mourning. A life lived in fear and sadness is not much of a life at all.

All the tragedy that has transpired should serve as a reminder that life is fleeting. We are responsible for spending as much of our time on this planet as we can doing good, pursuing happiness, and loving with all our hearts.

Don't waste a minute. Don't live in vain. Don't let those who wish to scare you win their sick game by complying to their desires.

Feel powerful in these moments of brotherhood/sisterhood with your fellow man and woman. Use them to connect with others in whatever ways you can.

And above all, be the champion of this battle. Just because we've fallen doesn't mean we've lost. It's up to us to get back up again and be the bigger and better persons. We can choose to thrive not from revenge and anger, but from mercy and hope.

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