Three months ago, I stood on a bridge over the Seine, watching the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower light up the sky and falling madly, deeply in love with beautiful Paris.
The light that flooded the streets of beautiful, beloved Paris has been extinguished by hatred and fear and violence. My heart is hurting for those hiding in the darkness, for those waiting in vain for loved ones to walk through the door, for those whose last minutes on this earth were consumed by fear.
My prayers, my thoughts, my love, and my light are all being sent to Paris tonight. And I am not alone in this.
Social media, fickle as it may be, served as a platform for hope and help tonight. As I scrolled through my accounts, I felt my spirits lift slightly at the prayers embracing Paris from all over the world. Facebook installed an “I’m Safe” button, to allow users to inform loved ones of safety. Twitter provided a forum for those stranded in Paris to find a place to stay with locals who graciously opened their homes to strangers.
Then I stumbled on a tweet that shocked me.
In the middle of these marks of the capacity for human compassion, a statement of ignorance shook me to my core.
It read, “I don’t send prayers to Paris tonight because I’m atheist. 60 people are dead in Paris, and it doesn’t affect me.”
This is a painful example of another human capacity: that of apathy. I believe that the writer of this statement held no ill will toward the victims, but he held no empathy, either. He had no idea of the human suffering that occurred today. His walls have been built so high, so thick, no compassion or sense of human dignity could seep through the cracks.
He has infected himself with a disease of the soul.
This is why we travel.
Travel is the cure for ignorance and intolerance and callous inhumanity. When you travel, when you immerse yourself in the unfamiliar world, your walls break down. Your barriers, your preconceived notions, your opinions about the “others”, all of these understandings dissipate quickly when you leave your comfort zone and enter the complex labyrinth that is Earth.
Everywhere you go, you leave bits of yourself. A big chunk here, a small fragment there, you spread yourself across the vastest distances.
Everywhere is home. Everywhere is a part of me. I share your pain. And I will share your strength.
The Eiffel Tower is dark tonight, but the sky is flooded with the colors of our beloved France glowing from the spire of One World Trade Center in New York, Wembley Stadium in England, the Dublin Convention Center. From coast to coast and all around the globe, the world is painted blue, white and red.
When the sun comes up in the morning, the people of Paris and the people of the world will stand together and say that terrorism is not welcome here. Hatred does not belong here.
It doesn’t matter what what language you speak or what religion you practice or what country is embroidered on the front of your passport. We are one people. We make each other stronger. When we are together, hate can never win.
Love will conquer all.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you Kenize!
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