Sunday, November 15, 2015

La Marseillaise

Friday was supposed to be a normal night.

I went into Stockholm to see a film, then I had planned on coming home and watching an hour or so of Netflix before heading to bed since I was scheduled to be at work at 8.00 the next morning.

However, Friday was anything but a normal night.

As everyone knows, Paris, France, fell victim to numerous terrorist attacks Friday night. I heard about one during my train ride back home and unfortunately didn't take it as seriously as I probably should have. When I got home, I opened my laptop and got on Twitter; Paris was the most trending topic worldwide. I skimmed the headlines to news articles provided by Twitter. It was a whirlwind of devastating words such as terrorists, hostages, bombings, attacks, among others. If it was physically possible for hearts to shatter, I think mine would have done so in that moment.

I was in a panic. I texted friends that I knew were in France, suspected might be in France, had family in France, or were from France to ensure that they and everyone they knew were safe and alive. Everyone I reached out to said that they and their loved ones were safe. The next day, I asked again to make sure and asked those I hadn't talked to the night before to ensure that the same could be said for them. Everyone I know and they know is alive and accounted for. I wish the same could be said for everyone.

The next morning, I was able to ask off work (I'm currently volunteering for a film festival, and we're always overstaffed in the mornings, so it wasn't a difficult task at all) so I would be able to attend a gathering to support France with a group of my French friends. The person that organised the rally is a Frenchman currently in Stockholm for an internship, and according to the roughly translated version of his speech that I got, he decided to create the event while he was watching the previous night's events unfold. He said he didn't know what to do at this event, he didn't know what to say, all he knew was that it was important to be together.

So we were together.

The world is in mourning...
The French anthem, La Marseillaise, was sung. Candles were lit. Swedes, Americans, Latvians, and other nationalities stood in solidarity with France. Where we were born and what our passports claimed were irrelevant; in those hours, we were all French.

After getting back from this gathering, I began to catch up on the rest of the news from the day before, and it was then that I discovered just how tragic Friday was, not just for France, but for the world. Natural disasters in Japan and Mexico. More terrorist attacks in Beirut and Baghdad. Hundreds dead all in a 24 hour period.

I was in shock. I didn't know how to react as I read tragic headline after tragic headline. For a moment, I felt like the world was collapsing right on top of me.

Sometimes, it feels like the world is too much for us. What I learned this weekend is that whenever the world starts feeling like it's too much for us is when we need one another the most. I just think it's a shame that it took a weekend like this one for me to figure that out.

Yes, we should stand in solidarity with France. The French people need all the love and support they can get right now. But we also need to stand in solidarity with Beirut. We need to stand in solidarity
with Baghdad. Despite our differences, we are all part of one human race, and we need to stand in solidarity against the attacks on humanity such as the ones we witnessed this weekend. If we stand divided, it is inevitable that our enemy will prevail.

For this reason, I stand in solidarity not only with France but with all of humanity who seek justice, freedom, and peace.