Thursday, 26 November 2015

Revenge vs unity

It has been a strange couple of weeks. The news from Paris seems to have depressed everyone's spirits. Tragic stories of husbands who have lost their wives, or parents searching for lost children, are circulating on social media, bringing us closer to the pain and the suffering. At the same time, I remain conscious of the plight of so many refugees fleeing the world's trouble spots. I watch and I listen, but most of the time I feel powerless to help.

A frosty field in winter
Beauty even in winter
Yesterday members of Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was performing at the Bataclan concert hall before it was stormed by Isis terrorists, gave their first interview to the news organisation Vice. Lead singer, Jessie Hughes, said he couldn't wait to get back to Paris and wanted to be there when the Bataclan re-opened. "Our friends went there to see rock 'n' roll and they died," he told Vice. I want to go back there and live."

The reactions to the events in Paris can be split very crudely into two camps. There is revenge (declare all-out war) and there is unity (we will not be defeated; let's come together and enjoy life). One reaction seeks to end more lives, the other is life-affirming. Many of us will swing between both camps, but I can't help feeling that the path to recovery lies in the more positive reaction. Revenge can be a blunt tool and inevitably it leads to the loss of more innocent lives. Of course Isis must be stopped - and I don't pretend to have all the answers - but there are many ways to fight a war.

Meanwhile I am trying to recover my zest for life in simple pleasures - walking the dog on a sunny day, laughing with my children, reading a good book. There is still enough joy in the world to outweigh some of the sorrow. It is one way of honouring those who died in Paris and defying those who seek to annihilate our style of life.

Last week I attended a musical concert at my daughter's school and sitting in the row in front of me was a young girl in a headscarf. Halfway through the concert, she started to fade and laid her head on the shoulder of the girl next to her. I wish I could have taken a picture: the blue headscarf resting sleepily beside a thick, blonde plait. These were children from different creeds, schooled together, accepting their differences without question. It was unity and innocence at its best, an image worth remembering.