Nous Sommes Tout de Parisiens

French Flag Half MastDetermination – 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.


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38 responses to “Nous Sommes Tout de Parisiens

  1. I am so sad about the horror that took place last evening in Paris. The repercussions will be felt all around the world.

  2. Well said, Margot. I really have no words so thank you for saying what needs to be said.

  3. Terrible day for us all.

  4. Margot, I feel desperately sad that Paris has suffered this brutal attack. The values of the French Republic of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are universal, and normal people cannot comprehend the monstrous inhumanity of the people who perpetrated this outrage.
    While we cannot allow ourselves to be dragged down to their level of barbarism, we saw during the 1930s how appeasement and weakness only encourages evil.

    • You are absolutely right, Norman, that appeasing these horrible terrorists, and not standing strong, results in more horror. We need to be just as determined to stop the terrorists as we are not to be dragged down to their level. As you say, it’s impossible to get our heads round that sort of barbarity; and I think that’s part of what has left us all so shocked. I grieve, as we all do, for the lives lost and changed forever.

  5. Thank you, Margot. That beautiful, magical city . . . it is heart-breaking.

  6. Absolutely shocking and devastating, Margot. The attacks have an uncanny resemblance to the Mumbai attacks a few years ago. Those who hate our way of life have no life of their own. Paris will rise higher than the Eiffel Tower.

    • You put that beautifully, Prashant, for which thank you. Mumbai was not defeated in the terrorist attacks of 2008. Paris will not be defeated, either. Those who think that the rest of us will give in and give up are wrong. We have too much determination for that.

  7. Col

    Awful, absolutely barbaric.

  8. Well said Margot – a sad day indeed!

  9. Janet Fearnley

    Devastating for those who have lost loved ones and for such a beautiful city. It is truly a time to be strong as you say, stand against such terrible acts and support those who been so horribly affected. Your words say everything so well.

    • Thanks very much, Janet. That’s very kind of you. You’re absolutely right that we need to have determination and strength. We need to care for those who’ve been injured, comfort those who’ve lost friends and loved ones, and refuse to let these horrible acts defeat or define us.

  10. Well said, Margot. If we lose our humanity, then the terrorists win.

  11. Keishon

    I came home from work…turned on the TV and my heart just sank. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of this tragedy. Thanks for writing this post, Margot and I’m sorry that you had to write it. Will there ever be peace in our lifetime?

    • Thanks, Keishon. I’m sorry that I had to write it, too. Like you, I’m heartbroken, and I think we all stand by those who lost loved ones and friends. I don’t know if we will ever have peace. But I think humans have a real resilience, and I have faith that that grit will get us through this.

  12. Margot: The Western world had a limited reaction when attacks came from individuals. With a planned attack of this proportion I expect France and the Western world to undertake large scale actions against ISIS. France had a long standing presence in Syria. I think it will move directly against ISIS.

  13. What a tragedy. So, so sad.

  14. Thanks for your thoughts Margot. A bad day for the free world, but the sun still rises.

  15. You are so right, Margot. The events are incomprehensible. And we do need to remember that life will go on and we can hope for better things in the future.

    • It’s true, Tracy. What happened is so hard to comprehend – it really is. But life does go on, and I am convinced that the people of Paris have that grit to pick up their lives.

  16. Kathy D.

    Of course, my heart goes out to the loved ones of those who were killed and to those injured in the horrific massacres in Paris. An irony is that people from 11 countries were killed, including a young music student from Algeria, a Moroccan man, and two young sisters from Tunisia.
    I wonder if the perpetrators cared that people from the Middle East and North Africa were among the victims, and would be in a city with many immigrants. I guess not.
    I worry though that there is already anger at France for bombing in Iraq and Syria, and that more violence will occur in response to that — and that more innocent people will be killed out of thoughtless revenge.
    I also hope that this does not result in more ultra-right actions in France against Arab, North African people and Muslims, and that the government does not carry out repression against immigrant communities when it is a small number of extremist reactionaries who are carrying out these acts.
    I also hope that it does not result in European countries closing their borders to or making life harder for the Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan migrants who are fleeing the hardships of war and trying to find somewhere to live in peace.
    My heart goes out to the millions displaced by the wars going on — either internally or externally. And I feel for the thousands of migrants who have died in the Mediterranean or those who face intolerance and hostilities on their journeys or at their destinations.
    This is just an awful period of time. It’s the civilians inside those countries who suffer and then more innocent people, as the 30 staff and patients who were killed in Kunduz, Afghanistan when a Doctors without Borders hospital was bombed. And, of course, the 129 innocent people in Paris.
    I worry that more war means more deaths, injuries, dislocations.
    It’s a tough time.

    • It’s a very difficult time indeed, Kathy. And you’re right that so many of the people who are suffering most are innocent civilians just going about their lives. It’s a terrible cycle of violence, and it’s even worse that it has such an impact on so many innocent people.

  17. Kathy D.

    True, and the Syrians, Iraqiis and Afghans fleeing their homelands, not out of choice, face death, danger, loss of funds and a totally unknown future — and inside their homelands, many civilians face deth. We tend to forget about them at a time like this but they are still being killed, their homes, hospitals and schools destroyed at incredible rates.
    When I see that 11 million Syrians are being displaced internally and externally, I wonder where they can go and be accepted and get housing and jobs.
    War is hell. Its true.

  18. It reminds me of the Terror Attacks in Mumbai in 2008. The irony then was that nearly a third of the victims happened to be Muslims, and the terrorists were supposedly fighting in the name of Islam. All terrorists are without religion, and the only way to defeat them is to never give up.

    • Well said, Natasha. We need to remain strong and resolved, and we need to not give up or become resigned. What happened in Mumbai is tragically ironic, isn’t it? And it does bear commonalities to what happened in Paris. I hope the time will come, and soon, when these awful things don’t happen any more.

      • I heard a rather interesting observation the other day. That when you start to ignore man-made tragedy, it stops. Because the only reason it is inflicted is to provoke a reaction. The example given was of the treatment of blacks in the US which reduced once it started becoming stale and therefore ignored, but I really don’t know how far it is true.
        But yes, never, never give up. Or give in.

        • I don’t know how true that is, either, Natasha, but it really is an interesting observation. And you’re right: it’s very important not to give up or give in.

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