I took the photo above while on a whirlwind visit to Paris last November. It was early morning, wet and biting cold as we sat aloft a hop on / hop off bus circling around the city. We had arrived just the evening before for what was my second trip and decided to jump on the bus just to get our bearings. I can tell you that even all these months later, it's easy to remember the pure joy and exhilaration I felt finally getting a good look in the daylight at this majestic place I loved so very much. As we wound through the route, I was anxious for the perspective I finally snapped with my camera when the bus momentarily stopped behind the Trocadero. I remember I turned to my husband and remarked that we had been given an extraordinary gift in that fleeting moment, a sunlit pause in the downpour that allowed us to get a clear glimpse of the Old Lady.
There were of course many extraordinary gifts encountered during our time in Paris, a trip we worked hard and fought for over many preceding months. These are scenes and moments I still carry with me every day. I can tell you that walking that great city only reaffirmed to me that I am a citizen of the world.
I typically focus on other topics here on the blog, but in that spirit, I felt compelled to pause and reflect on the unfathomable events that unfolded last week in France. I will choose not to discuss politics, freedom of the press or religion here - though arguably, it all does matter. But I simply won't because I've realized in the days that followed, whats at stake is really about something entirely bigger and inclusive of us all- regardless of where we are born and what we are born into. At its finest point, it's humanity that is being victimized again and again. Its all I can think about when I turn on the nightly news to see the headlines of the day, something I feel like doing so less and less. Its appalling what we as the human race do to our own beyond any justification. I'm not insensitive to the arguments related to marginalization and socio-economic disparities that we also have a hand in creating and do exist in this world of ours. Life is not an equal playing field - it just isn't and you know what, it's not fair. We all need a closer look at our world and collectively, we absolutely must do better. But there is nothing that rationalizes what took place in France, Syria, Nigeria or the US last week - nothing.
What are we doing to ourselves? It just hurts to the depths of my soul. It keeps me awake at a night when I realize just how complicated it has become to go to work, to go to the market or take a jog down the street, to remember that we are all one in the same - even if we are not. 5,000 miles away, I am affected by the terror and violence that took place in Paris - not just because I realize it can just as easily happen here or because it happened there, but frankly because it happened at all.
Similarly, I am just as moved by the millions that took to the streets of Paris on Sunday, a show of humanity in its finest hour. I actually set an alarm and woke up early on a weekend morning to witness it, even if just as evidence that there is still good among us. I know there are many that may disagree, but that is what #jesuischarlie is to me at its heart - beyond the magazine, beyond freedom of the press, beyond France. It's a way of supporting, recommitting and binding us back together in the modern age, beyond race, religion or border. What a cost though for such a reminder. May it not be in vain.
Honestly, I have more questions than answers and so much still to learn. But in the midst of such a profound sadness and alarm, I just could not pretend I'm going about my business with recipes, renovations and pretty pictures and not say something about what is happening.