Paris in Darkness

Eiffel Tower, 2007

Last Friday, Paris, City of Light, was assailed by darkness — a darkness born of perverted religious fervour;  born of ignorance; born of hate.

The day before, it was Beirut.  Every day, it is Syria and Iraq.

We reel from this murderous insanity.  We mourn.  We weep.  We rage.  We cry for vengeance.

Yet we must not join this encroaching darkness, and we must not act in angry or fearful haste.  We must be reason; we must be the deadly calm in the eye of the storm, and when we do act, we must be focused and determined.  But first we need to know who is indeed the enemy, and who is not.

Many say:  “It was muslims who attacked;  muslims are a threat!” — they say muslims are the enemy.

Muslims are not the enemy.  “They” are no threat to us.  Many of “us,” indeed, are in fact muslims:  our friends and families, our neighbours, our colleagues.

We must be scrupulous in our thinking:  if in a given case the enemy are muslims, it does not follow that muslims are the enemy — apples are fruit, but, of course, not all fruit are apples!

It is also alleged that some of the perpetrators of this newest outrage were Syrian refugees:  “See!”  say all too many,  “Refugees are a threat!” … and  “We must halt our planned intake of Syrian refugees!  It’s just too dangerous!”  they say.

But it appears as well that at least one of these thugs was a French-born citizen;  not a Syrian, not a refugee at all.  Should we not therefore close our borders to all French citizens?  They’re just too much risk?  Or, what of the many thousands of travellers who each day arrive from who-knows-where to do who-knows what?  How can we be sure that none of them are terrorists?

Should we just close our borders?  It’s just too dangerous?  Of course not.

The world is no more nor less dangerous today than it was Friday morning, or last month, or last year.  The difference is that today we see it through a lense tinted more darkly with fear and anger.  We must keep our balance, regardless.

We will of course take the most prudent care in vetting those refugees we welcome at this volatile time.  But refugees are not the enemy; they are no threat to us; we need not fear them.

We must carry-on, for we must recognize that these are people whose homes and cities have been razed and ravaged, who have been living in a maelstrom of imminent death and destruction, of desperation, destitution, and despair, their hopes and dreams shattered.

They are looking only for an opportunity to live in peace; to work, to raise their families, to see their grandchildren born and bounce them on their knees;  just like everyone else.

They are asking for our help, for refuge, haven from the storm.  Lost in the darkness, they are looking for the light.  Let us be the light.

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