Those of you who know me or that have even read one post on this blog, know what a Francophile I am. I have been to Paris and have visited many cities and villages during my time in Spain and it is a place I would love to live one day. What I love most is the culture and it is something that has been brought up given the tragic events of last Friday. I don’t feel that changing the photo on my Facebook page is enough, it feels like a hollow gesture in the wake of what has happened. Yet, any message of peace at all is welcomed and encouraged at this time, so I will add my piece in my little corner of the web. This blog is about the charms of Europe, the food, the lifestyle and the beauty. I hesitate to speak of bombs or destruction in the same breath as I say the name ‘Paris’ but sadly, that is what it has come to.
A quote in the New York Times, which has received quite a bit of visibility sums up Parisian life (French life) perfectly.
” France embodies everything religious zealots everywhere hate: enjoyment of life here on earth in a myriad little ways: a fragrant cup of coffee and buttery croissant in the morning, beautiful women in short dresses smiling freely on the street, the smell of warm bread, a bottle of wine shared with friends, a dab of perfume, children playing in the Luxembourg Gardens, the right not to believe in any god, not to worry about calories, to flirt and smoke and enjoy sex outside of marriage, to take vacations, to read any book you want, to go to school for free, to play, to laugh, to argue, to make fun of prelates and politicians alike, to leave worrying about the afterlife to the dead. No country does life on earth better than the French. Paris, we love you. We cry for you. You are mourning tonight and we with you. We know you will laugh again, and sing again, and make love, and heal, because loving life is your essence. The forces of darkness will ebb. They will lose. They always do.”
I heard an interview on our local NPR tonight with one of the directors of a theatre in Paris. They decided to close down the theatre for the weekend but she said that on Sunday, people filled the parks, and sat on terraces and the streets were busier, perhaps even busier than before. She said that in Paris, it has become an act of defiance to embrace art and drink wine but an act they are more than happy to partake. A cartoonist from Charlie Hebdo has taken to social media to suggest an alternative hashtag, he says “Our faith goes to music! kisses! life! champagne and joy!” Through this tragedy has come an abundance of spirit, life and love flowing to the surface and it gives me hope for humanity and our earth that we will overcome the evil because love and the love of life always wins. There will continue to be evil in this world, I am not sure that will ever go away but as long as we have love, a sense of community and empathy for others, we will persevere. Because something that these terrorists have told us, is that they want to form an US vs Them mentality. It’s that simple. The more hate that is spread through social media about Muslims, they win. When congress decided to turn its back on refugees, they win. The more Donald Trump talks about closing mosques in the US, they win. And I know we don’t want that. I know we are better than that.
And as I sit here writing this post with ‘Midnight in Paris’ playing in the background, Marion Cotillard says something that also puzzles me, “I cannot decide whether Paris is more beautiful during the day or at night.” She’s right, I think it is beautiful always and especially in the rain.
In honor of humanity, here are a few prominent people who were given a second chance when they made it to a new country, as a refugee.
Steve Jobs came to this country and invented the thing you might be using to read this article. His biological father was a Syrian refugee.
Another smart one, Albert Einstein. He fled Germany in 1933.
Nobel Peace Prizes. Many refugees have been award winners in fields such as Literature, Physics, Economics and the most important of all, Peace.
Badass singer M.I.A? She left Sri Lanka with her family at the age of 9 as they were being persecuted for being a minority.
Phillip Emeagwali, according to Time magazine, “came up with the formula to allowing a large number of computers to communicate at once.” His parents were war refugees from Nigeria.
How about Regina Spektor? Her family left Russia because they were being persecuted for being Jewish.
Do you drive a Mini Cooper? Sir Alec Issigonis invented it. He might never have had the chance. Though, he immigrated to the U.K. when Greece and Turkey were at war in 1922.
Madeleine Albright was forced to flee Czechoslovakia during World War II, the family fled to England and later immigrated to America in 1948.
Hannah Arendt, a German born philosopher who came to the United States in 1941.
Lastly, Sriracha. David Tran invented that after he fled Vietnam when the communists from the North took over the South.
There are so many more though, just take a look at this list of famous refugees who have taken a chance at a new country and have made it better than when they got here. I truly hope that the government sees that turning our backs on these people is not the answer. Terrorists will get in no matter what, it’s what they do. Even so, one of the attackers was French and became radicalized and they still have no concrete proof that any of the attackers entered as a refugee.
All I hope for, all any of us hope for, is peace. We are all citizens of this world and we all hope to be a part of it for as long as can. Whether destruction happens somewhere we can relate to, like Paris, or somewhere far away like Beirut, it is still happening and it’s happening to people who don’t deserve any of it. Look for peace in this world and carve out a small part in your community. Pay it forward for a stranger, perform random acts of kindness, go out of your way to be thoughtful for strangers and friends alike and watch what a difference it can make.