November 13

As you all may know, Paris and Saint Denis were the stage of terrorist attacks in the form of shootings and bombings. These attacks have claimed 129 lives and injured hundreds. The events of November 13th are the deadliest since the end of the Second World War on French soil, and will have deep ramifications for the years to come not just on domestic and foreign policy, but more so on how the people of France will interact among themselves and the world.

2015 has not been a kind year to people. Paris had 10 months prior endured what had been the worst terrorist attacks since the Paris Métro bombings of 1994 with the shootings at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. In the meantime, a Nigerian village was butchered by a group calling itself « Western Education is a Sin ». Months later a Kenyan university was the site of incredulous horrors. Then the world saw the image of a little 3 year old boy named Aylan lying facedown on a beach in Turkey, encapsulating the perennial Mediterranean tragedy of refugees journeying to seek shelter in Europe. And about 24 hours prior to November 13th, Lebanon’s capital was rattled by bombs in what became the worst attack in the country in 25 years. The sobering reality of this year is the banality of violence, and the stubborn incomprehension of its source(s).

What happened in France did not grow in a vacuum. We live in an interconnected world, an unequal world. But we should not diverge our attentions from the things that characterizes the best of humanity: empathy, critical thinking, resilience. I started this blog because I’m fortunate to have been born in a country with much of its culture, art, and language preserved, shared, and constantly evolving. Despite the real hypocrisy and contradictions of France’s foreign policies and the weight of its shameful colonial history, France is a country that learns, grows, and shares. The ideas that come from France are heard because they are worth something, and sadly this simple affirmation of existence remains a privilege for too few of Earth’s people.

November 13 is a reminder that we all need to be vigilant in and of our world, and to speak up when it counts. Otherwise it might be too late.

Gathering at Union Square, 11/13. Photo taken by the author.

Gathering at Union Square, Manhattan, New York on the night of November 13th. Photo taken by the author.

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