Apologies for the delay in my latest blog, it has been a mad few weeks. I am currently sitting on a train going home for the end of the week before then staying in London for the weekend. It has been a pretty special few weeks. Last weekend I was in Paris with my girlfriend (a Christmas pressie to remember), enjoying all the French capital had to offer. Eating their pastries, drinking their wine, viewing their architecture, I couldn’t help but also digest the modern political environment.
It is clear that France has experienced a somewhat unfair share of its terrorism in recent years whether it is the Nice crowd attack or the shooting on the very streets we were walking last weekend. What struck me while doing all the expected tourist ventures were two things. Firstly the armed police presence and secondly the lack of fear or indeed tribute. By this second point I reference that it was nice to see Parisian life carry on even in the face of the terror threat we see today. On the way from the metro to the hotel my girlfriend and I found ourselves predictably lost. It was at tis moment I approached, in broken French, a woman walking a French bulldog, eating a croissant with a string of garlic round her neck (might have made the last bit up). This lady had no reason to help us and could have quite possibly considered my ‘French’ speaking as more of a Middle Eastern dialect! Although instead of smiling apologetically and walking on, even though this lady didn’t know where our hotel was, she brought up maps on her phone and asked what the name of the hotel was before showing us where to go. Even though there were many other examples of such kindness, most notably the waiter who battled a dangerous looking manual rope lift in order to get some gin for a gin and tonic, a general feeling of generosity and liberality from everyone we met was evident.
The Paris attacks of 2015 were so shocking as it was not simply an attack on French individuals but Parisian culture. Whether it be the shooting at a music venture or the brutality of those alfresco dining or simply having a drink. Last weekend me and my girlfriend had a strawberry mojito (or two) in a very trendy cocktail bar on both the Friday and Saturday night. Although a seemingly small outing this does go to show that the public don’t live in fear. I was similarly reminded of a video I saw the day after the Paris attacks of a father and his son, as the father explained the shootings. This is the link to the particular video.
It was such a lovely weekend and although I saw some political party posters and the armed police and military forces all carrying either hand guns or semi-automatic rifles I previously mentioned, the perceived rise of the right wing was not evident. Marine Le Pen will use the attacks I reference as evidence for implementing a mentality into French culture; a mentality of fear.
I instead suggest that the strongest opposition to terrorism is the complete refusal to give in to the divisive and fear mongering nature of such acts of terror. The simplistic symbolism behind going out to have a drink without anxiety or the generosity of a stranger gives me more much more hope for the resilience against terrorism than the bitter, immoral, unethical and calculated rhetoric of a far right glory hunter.