Today, I had planned on writing about Paris’ magic during the period preceding the Christmas and New Year celebrations. About the millions of lights that sublime the extraordinary beauty of my hometown.
Instead, I want to share with my friends and family in Paris, the sorrow they are left with after Friday night’s terror attacks.
Instead, I want to take some time to think about how I can pass on a few words of my own wisdom to my children.
They saw how upset I was following the shocking news from Paris. They also see how emotional I get when my husband and I discuss the 60 million men, women and children who are currently displaced around the world, when we talk about the ecological, economical, and social challenges they will inherit from us.
I explained to my four year-old son and eight year-old daughter that many people had been killed as they were just having a nice time, as people usually do in Paris on a Friday evening.
In an equally matter-of-fact tone, they asked me if their grandmother, godmother, or cousins were dead. When I told them they were all fine, they asked me if we could go and buy Lørdagsgodt.
Rodin - The Thinker
Of course, one cannot expect one’s children to beg one to fly to Paris to see how we could assist the families of the victims, nor can one hope they will insist on swapping their Christmas presents for a donation to the Red Cross. But, before getting them their Saturday treat, I thought I would quickly revisit History with them.
This is what I said to them:
“Just over 200 years ago in Paris during the French Revolution, a group of French people decided to kill tens of thousands of other French people by cutting off their heads. It was wrong to do that. They did that because they were desperate. For years and years, they had been living in poverty and felt the people living in nice houses in Paris didn’t care about them. They were mothers and fathers, angry and scared for their children’s future. It was like a volcano that had to explode and it did. Too many people had been unhappy for too long. It was unfair, and things had to change forever. So, for about ten years, French people killed other French people in hideous ways but they managed to build the French Republic that we know today. The French Republic promises to represent everyone in France and to protect the right for every French man, woman and child to Freedom, Equality and Fraternity.
What happened Friday night in Paris was a massacre. But it was also maybe a sign that things will change a lot. Because with so many millions of unhappy and terrified people around us, the world you will live in will be different than the one you know now.
In the meantime, Pappa and I will teach you how to ask questions about why on the one hand, those who start the conflicts never get punished and on the other, the important people we have voted for are unable to stop those wars, build and protect peace in the world.”