Today’s post is going to be a little different to the normal. When I was around 16/17, I started writing a private blog, just for myself, as a means of venting all my issues. My very wise father once told me that the best way to express yourself is by writing it down, and as per usual, he was right. Maybe it’s just me, but it really helps to process your thoughts by putting them into sentences and paragraphs. However, looking back on that blog, my biggest issues in life were being fed up of 6th form, the stress of A-levels/getting into uni, and boy dramas. I haven’t used the blog in about 6 months, and this post was originally going to be published on there privately, but I figured maybe there are other people feeling the same as me right now and I would genuinely like to hear other people’s opinions on this matter as I had a pretty much sleepless night last night engrossed in articles around the topic.
I’m more than sure everyone has watched the news/read a paper/been on any kind of social media in the last 15 hours to see the tragedy that took Place in Paris last night. Saying that, not even in Paris. Yesterday saw witness to misfortunes in Lebanon, Japan and Baghdad. 3/4 of these calamities were acts of terrorism, with innocent people brutally murdered. I’m lucky enough to have had a very privileged upbringing, and I know that terrible things have happened in the world since I was born, but I think my school/parents did quite a good job at suppressing the severity of these incidents. So I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m in France at the moment that this seems a lot more close to home/surreal to me, or if it’s because I can actually understand the background of it. When I say I understand it, what I mean by that is that I have more of an insight now into why people are committing crimes like this, however I definitely do not understand why they think it is the right thing to do.
This morning I decided to go to the Cathedral St Sernin in Toulouse to light a candle for those who lost their lives lastnight, and the family and friends of those who must be mourning right now. I was half expecting/hoping there to be a service on for them this morning, which I think there was a little earlier, but I had just missed it. However the Cathedral was full of people paying their respects. There are about 7 stands where you can light candles, and every other time I have been, there has been lots of room on these stands, today they were full. I was completely overwhelmed. I sat down for about 15 minutes, when a French lady came and sat next to me and asked if I was okay. I nodded and smiled and went to stand up to leave, and she grabbed my hand and gave me a hug. Not just a hug, a proper motherly hug, which was exactly what I needed.
What happened last night makes me feel sick, it completely disgusts me, and I can not and will never fathom the dismay of it all. I was saying yesterday that what makes me the most angry is that people will have sat down and planned this for months, they will have known the exact date they were going to do it, they will have produced their weapons, and what’s worse is that they actually believe that they will be worshipped for these kinds of acts. Alice reminded me that nowadays, they won’t have even had to sit down and plan it, and it can all be done over social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about the dangers of social media recently, after Essena O’Neil decided to rebel against it and try to raise awareness on the distorted realities it can show, which I completely agree with, but yesterday night/this morning has 100% shown the advantages of social media and just the internet in general. As we were sat playing ring of fire last night and were informed of the news, we immediately started attempting to get in touch with loved ones who we knew were in Paris to assure that they were safe. On Facebook, you can mark yourself safe. On Twitter, you can use the hashtag #porteouverte to find Parisians who have been kind enough to open up their houses to those in need of safety. Scrolling through instagram, or snapchat, just to see people praying for Paris. I’m all the way down in Toulouse, and yet friends were still contacting to make sure I was okay and safe.
France has declared itself in a state of emergency, and has shut its borders, something that hasn’t been done since the Nazis occupied Paris in 1944. At terrible times like this, people really do come together. Whether it be over the internet, on the street, or sat in a church, people will always unite and help eachother. Obama said lastnight that “this is not just an attack on Paris. It’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” This has effected people all over the world, and will continue to throughout the course of history. It’s quite crazy to think that our children/grandchildren will be learning about what happened last night in their history lessons, and we will be able to remember exactly where we were and what we were doing at the point of finding out.
Aside from all the negativity which I’m sure will remain everlastingly, it’s important to think about the positives of this. I will definitely be taking a bit of time out over the next week to reflect on how lucky I am to have people who I love and care for, and that love and care for me back. I have a roof over my head, and food in my belly, which is a lot more than can be said for some people. In my opinion, the worst trait a person can have is selfishness. People who don’t appreciate life are definitely the worst kinds of people. So for those of you reading this, I propose you to live life from now on, appreciating all the little things that go on in your days. It costs nothing to give a genuine act of kindness. Hold the door open for someone, talk to a stranger (within reason), laugh with your best friends, tell someone you love them, buy that outfit you can’t stop thinking about, eat that pizza you think will make you gain weight, because however stupid it sounds, life is short, and those who lost their lives last night woke up thinking it was just a normal day.
Although this post was mainly for me, I hope you can take something from it too.