Fighting Hate with Hope
The nightmare that Paris faced on November 13th has been a recurring one for many of us. Echoing many tragedies happening all over the world, this particular one received a massive amount of coverage, and left a particularly heavy dent in our hearts.
Whether you are French, you’ve been to France, or you’ve dreamed of going, the news hit and stung. If you watched the videos and read the accounts of the people there, the pain felt overwhelming. I spent many years of my life dreaming of Paris and what it would be like to finally visit one day. I was practically a fan girl of the Eiffel Tower. You could find pictures of it all over my room, on my bed, and on my clothes. Everyone that knew me knew that I dreamed of going there.
With everything going on in the world, we were afraid that it would be a prime time for something tragic to happen. We would be in the danger zone.
So finally, two summers ago, I went to Paris for the first time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite like I had dreamed. I was only there for one day, and it was incredibly rushed. Many people were rude and I got ripped off time after time. I left feeling pretty disappointed. Basically, I had the typical tourist experience.
However, this past summer, I returned to Paris to give it a second chance. This time, I stayed for four days and got a true taste for the culture there. After traveling all around Europe, I can say without hesitation that Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It’s not hard to understand why some have coined it the “City of Love.” I’ve also heard it called a “prettier New York,” which, as a native New Yorker, I’m reluctant to agree with but I’m not exactly disagreeing.
What people don’t know about my recent visit to Paris was that I was actually quite afraid to go. My friends and I had planned to be in Paris for Bastille Day, also known as French Independence Day. One of my friends who had studied abroad in Paris insisted that it would be well worth it. However, with everything going on in the world, we were afraid that it would be a prime time for something tragic to happen. We would be in the danger zone. Yet, somehow, we carried on with our plans.
On Bastille Day, my friends and I had the luxury of picnicking under the Eiffel Tower. Not only did I experience a beautiful concert there, but I also saw the most amazing fireworks show I may ever see. There was so much pride in the air that night. The energy was contagious. Of all the traveling I’ve done, that night remains one of my fondest memories.
After the concert, we took a long walk back to where we were staying. Parisians were out celebrating everywhere. The happiness that surrounded us was almost palpable. Though I’m not French, I felt a tinge of French pride. I had fallen in love with the city.
Fast forward to today. Tragedy has struck. People all around the world are terrified. Many feel that it’s unfair that Paris has received the attention it has. I don’t feel comfortable with either of these responses. The last thing we need right now is more fear or more conflict.
If this story hits home for you, in any shape or form, let it bring you closer to those around you.
I agree that tragedies, wherever they may be, should never go ignored. No matter how big or small, tragedy is tragedy. Human lives are human lives. So if this story hits home for you, in any shape or form, let it bring you closer to those around you.
It’s horrifying that people everywhere are being falsely stigmatized for what has gone on. Don’t give in to that hate or intolerance. Syrian refugees are not the threat here–they’re the ones trying to escape the threats. Muslims are not the enemy here. They don’t want war any more than anyone else does. We don’t need more fear in the world. We need to feel hopeful.