Determination – grit, if you will – is one of those deeply embedded human traits that cuts across cultures and across times. It’s enabled humans to survive terrible ordeals and go on after them. It’s part of what’s kept us alive as a species. I’m sure that we could all offer dozens of examples of people who’ve kept going in the face of a lot of reasons not to go on.
There are all kinds of examples from crime fiction, too, of characters who show that sort of determination – far too many for me to list here. We admire them for their ability to survive and, crucially, to move on. Those characters reflect what we want to think of ourselves. And we identify with them because they represent part of what is good in human nature.
The people of Paris are showing that determination as they come to grips with the awful attacks that happened there yesterday. To all of them, please know that you are not alone in your determination. Millions of the rest of us stand with you in your resolve. We grieve your losses with you, too, and wish you peace and healing.
Life in Paris will go on, despite the attacks. The destruction will be repaired, and people will not stop going to work and school, planning their futures, and living their lives. The healing will take time, and life won’t be the same for those who lost loved ones and friends. The city has suffered real trauma. But Paris will not give up. I admire that grit. Those responsible for the attacks have not succeeded in frightening Paris into submission. They have only made the city more determined to go on.
There’s another kind of resolve, too, that is an important part of human nature. That’s the resolution not to lose our humanity. There are numerous stories, some just coming out, and some still to come, of people helping one another, even in the midst of the attacks. And all around the world, millions of others are banding together, looking for ways to reach out. In large and small ways, the people of Paris and those who stand with them are showing that we can be compassionate and humane, even in the face of inhumanity. I admire that kind of determination as well. It shows that, even in the midst of such brutality, people do not have to give up their humanity.
As the search for the attackers gets underway, and as those affected begin to rebuild, I hope we will hold on to those two kinds of determination. Rebuilding, getting on with life, bringing the attackers to justice, and not being defeated is one kind. Refusing to stop being human, and not allowing ourselves to be defined by terrorism, is another.
My thoughts and wishes for strength, hope and healing go out to the people of Paris at this time. Nous sommes tout de Parisiens.