Words can barely describe the depth of the rage I feel at the atrocities that were committed in my adopted city last Friday night. Granted, it is far from the only feeling pounding in my heart; with shock and sadness also both present in equal measure. It is the anger, however, which is fuelling a burning hatred within me that I desperately want to extinguish.
In my darker moments it isn’t enough that the majority of the perpetrators were killed during the attacks but I also want those who were captured to be hurt in kind. In fact, I want them to be tortured until they are begging for death and then some. I truly don’t want to be having such disturbing thoughts. Not only are they so far removed from the person I believe myself to be, but I know full well that if I give in to these troubling urges and let myself get caught up in an anti-Islamic mob mentality, then the terrorists have accomplished what they set out to do.
Unsurprisingly, there have been many people politicising the events for their own agenda, playing upon people’s heightened sense of fear and loss of security. This only serves to anger me further and does nothing to help with the ever-growing problem of intolerance and separatist ideology. Thankfully, I haven’t been so blinded by my fury as to foolishly blame all Muslims or refugees for the heinous acts of a few.
It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge that similar massacres are happening all around the globe on a shamefully regular basis. The loss of human life is always a terrible thing no matter the location or ethnicity of the victims. While such reports never fail to sadden and sicken me, it’s hard not to be so wholly consumed by the ones committed in my own neighbourhood. Undoubtedly, that is part of the problem.
In some ways I feel it has been harder for me to be here in Australia than with my husband and friends in Paris, as I’ve been forced to worry about them from afar instead of being able to take comfort in one another in person. From the first instance I heard the horrific news Saturday morning my stomach was in knots. This only began to ease as I received messages throughout the day slowly telling me that my nearest and dearest were out of harm’s way.
Fortunately, I’ll be returning to Paris this weekend, although I am more than a little afraid of what I may come back to. It isn’t that I fear another attack; rather I worry I’ll find a city divided by fear and hate. Now that we seem to be in a state of war I’m not quite sure what to expect. That being said, there have been some encouraging signs, such as the extensive use of #NotAfraid – both on social media and in the streets – and the campaign encouraging Parisians to eat out tonight in an effort to reclaim some semblance of our previous way of life. This display of solidarity is extremely heart-warming and shows the better nature of humanity; much like the sea of people who marched through the city in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre earlier this year.
I can only hope that the City of Light doesn’t give in to the darkness. I wholeheartedly hope we can fight our overwhelming urge for vengeance and work together to try and stop this seemingly endless cycle of violence. Given my own sense of outrage at these cowardly acts I know that it will be a struggle but one well worth winning.