We wish to thank all of you Dear Readers, who wrote to ask as to our safety after the dreadful attacks in Paris last week. We and our family are all well, as are our friends, but not their friends, some of whom are among the wounded. Like everyone else, we send our sympathies to the families of those who were killed.
Glibness comes easily for us, but we can find no words to express what we think and feel about this aggression and tragedy. We give here the words of our son, which come very close to what we feel.
Today I am French.
Although I did not learn the language until I was ten years old, my father was born in Normandy in 1943, two years and a stone’s throw from D-Day. Although I still speak it with the accent of an outsider, it is how I speak to half my family. To me it is, always has been, and always will be a language of love.
Today I am Parisian.
Although Paris is but one entry in the long list of cities in which I spent my childhood, it was in Paris that I witnessed 9/11. It was Parisians who, upon hearing my American English, approached me to tell me how deeply sorry they were for the suffering my country had endured. It was Parisians who stood in solidarity by my side when I, and the world, witnessed the dawning of the modern age of terrorism.
Today I am a witness.
Although I am a child of France and Paris, last night I watched from afar. I saw horror, and then I saw love. I saw liberty, equality, and brotherhood overtake fear within minutes. I saw a city still under attack literally throw open its doors to strangers, refusing even for a moment to cower in fear. I watched#PorteOuverte, and my heart sang in the midst of tragedy.
Today I am human.
Although I am angry, although the rage that shakes me so that I can barely type feels like a force of nature, I will not direct that anger at innocents. The refugees who seek sanctuary in Europe are fleeing exactly this violence in their own countries. They are the victims, not the perpetrators, of these attacks. They are us, and we are them, and we must protect that knowledge in the face of our own anger.
Although the personal connection I have to Paris gives these events an immediate resonance, they are one example of myriad tragedies in the world today. Whatever action they galvanise must be on behalf of all humanity. There is no #PeaceforParis without #PeaceforAll
Today I am human, because we all are.
Today I am a witness, because we all are.
Today I am Parisian, because we all are.
Today I am French, because we all are.
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.