it’s almost comical how quickly our perspective can change. just think: a few days ago, the internet/media overwhelmed with reports of a guy who thought red cups were anti-Christianity and even more reports of Christians who were anti the anti-red cup movement. a hashtag spread and pretty soon, like the blue dress/gold dress debaucle, all of us were consumed with taking a side or taking a side to not take a side. and yet here we are, once again reminded that there is actual evil in this world and it’s not going away.
there have been a number of instances where my heart was so heavy that i couldn’t even begin to process. the general disregard for human life in the middle east, the shootings all across the US, the rise of trafficking around the globe, the violence in europe, the syrian refugee crisis. the five attacks across five countries just yesterday. for someone who tries to see the good in people and in the world, it’s a lot to take in.
but perhaps for the same reason that so many of my friends have taken to the now symbolic eiffel tower peace sign and the blue, white, red profile pics, i remember Paris.
the world was different back then, as cheesy as that sounds. i was fresh out of college, social media was JUST starting to be a thing (and who knew i’d end up making a career out of that site “the facebook”) and my friends Karen, Emily and i found ourselves on a trip to europe. paris was our first stop, but we had mistimed our flight from london and then again to barcelona (our second stop) due to completely forgetting about time zones, so we only had about 36 hours to spend in the City of Lights. we were completely jet-lagged and exhausted, but i remember Paris so well. running through the beautiful stone streets at night looking for food, and finding a little cafe whose kitchen was closed, but their cooks whipped us up some amazing salads anyway. sleeping in a hostel that can only be described as historic and charming. digging out my high school french to order breakfast at a boulangerie near the train. munching on crepes and almost getting killed running across the not-meant-for-pedestrians roundabout that circled the arch de triumph (it was only later that we realized there was an underground tunnel). all with giant hiking backpacks.
but one of the best memories of paris was when we got to see the iconic eiffel tower in person. we tried to romcom it: one of our good friends was traveling in europe as well, so we planned to meet at a certain time, under the eiffel tower. it was hilariously glorious, the meeting. the tower? it was spectacular. you see it in movies, on TV, in magazines… but nothing compares to standing directly under it and seeing the structure in real life. it’s HUGE. and at night, it’s even more beautiful with lights and people and the city in the backdrop. (don’t judge my photos, back then we didn’t have selfie sticks, iphones or even cameras with megapixels…)
thinking about the terror and horror that happened yesterday breaks my heart. not just because it’s paris, but because it’s families who lost mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives. people lived through that horror, wondering if it was their last day, wishing they had said goodbye to everyone they love. hoping that they would be saved. seeing evil manifest in the actions of others and being unable to stop it. feeling helpless yet angry.
we see this every day in movies and on television, in books and we somehow become desensitized. until it happens in real life, to real people, in real places where we’ve walked the streets, sat down in the cafes. where our friends or family are living, working, and walking those same streets.
it can be easy to blame and to point fingers, to generalize and focus on stereotypes. sometimes having an identified enemy is the easiest way for people to cope. but as i think about all the violence and hatred around the world, it’s clear that doing just that is not the answer. hate breeds hate. violence breeds violence.
so as i sit and stew, or walk and stew… or do anything and then stew, i come back to this: pray. and not just say i am going to pray. but REALLY pray. pray for Kuwait, for Tunisia, for Syria, for Iraq and for France (the five countries attacked just this week). and maybe throw the rest of the world in there. because let’s be serious, hatred and violence can spread like wildfire, no matter where or who it’s coming from.