Monday, 16 November 2015

Beirut and Paris

This Friday, I headed out after work to my friend's house, where I was spending the night. We haven't seen each other for a while, so we ordered a takeaway, set up at the kitchen table with a bottle of red, and shared our meal, catching each other up on life's recent events. We decided to head to the village pub afterwards, enjoying the company of the locals and looking forward to our day on Saturday, selling her jewellery at a craft fair. Our thoughts didn't much extend beyond our weekend and the enjoyment we were experiencing. Then we arrived home and did the now obligatory Facebook and Twitter checks before heading to bed. That's how the news of the attacks on Paris reached me.

I started this blog, not as a political platform, or a space to vent my opinions for others to read and judge. I want this to be a refuge, a haven for sharing ideas, good experiences, adventures. I want to offer something pleasant for you to read. I like to think that, so far, I've delivered. But when something monstrous occurs, the only thing to be done is to face it head on and address it.

This past week, 2 countries have experienced heartache beyond measure. Lebanon on Thursday, France on Friday. People are, understandably, scared, fearful, angry. No matter how many times we hear of such atrocities, they still take our breath away. For that I am glad. I will never accept these occurrences as the norm, I refuse to. The day that I am not shocked, surprised or immediately appalled by these types of action will be a very distressing day indeed. They will never be acceptable.

Every time these stories hit the news, I am aware of how such actions are intended and designed to make me feel. They are designed to cause suspicion, public outcry, and disjointedness between cultures. We are being urged to look at one another questioningly, to be mistrustful and scared. Don't. Feel defiant, feel unity, feel determined. I will not allow such things to alter the way I look at strangers. I refuse to judge people any differently than I have in the past. If anything, we need to pull together. Now more than ever, we need to look after each other, support each other, and trust each other. If we can't, they have succeeded. Don't let them. There is the obvious threat of future attacks, the UK itself has been at its highest security level for months. People have talked of avoiding big shopping centres, and city centres across the country 'just incase'. I understand, but I won't be following suit. I will be heading to London in the next couple of weeks, and I won't be deterred. Again, if I did, I'd feel like I'd let 'them' win.

Those in Beirut and Paris that aren't waking up with their families today are in my thoughts, as are the Lebanese and French who are coping with the aftermath of the weekend, and anybody else who has suffered as a result. I have been, and will be, lighting a candle in my window each evening since. It's a small gesture, it might seem trivial or unimportant to some. But it's a way of saying that you are being thought of. That there is still light out there. That we're there for you. It's reminding me to be grateful for what I have.

I apologise for such a serious post, but in the light of such events, it seemed necessary to address them. Sobering though it is, despite how much we may want to focus on light-heartedness, these things keep occurring, and we shouldn't ignore them.