Aftermath, July, 18th, 2016

There is a recurring thing in the press when something happens, it is to bring up new or uncommon words in the conversation, words that become fashionable and, for the lucky few, fashionable. As the killers of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were being surrounded by the police – in a printing facility – by the police, I was chatting to a friend through Skype. We were at a loss for words – but one – resilience. We agreed that we would have to be resilient, now and after whatever else we might have to face. It has become the motto of a nation, but as horror succeeds to horror, how resilient can one be? How can one still live in the wake of Paris attacks, in the wake of the gruesome assassination of a couple in front of their child, in the wake of the sickening events in Nice? I mention those because they’re the closest to my heart, because they affected my country, but there are countless similar attacks who affect thousands of other people. One common factor is that a terrorist attack is called such as it is supposed to instill fear among us, survivors. We are exactly that: survivors: literally, raised above life. We can all picture ourselves in a situation where we could have lost our lives, but we need to overcome that feeling, and keep on, no matter the pain.

There are two ways one can react, in light of such tragic events. One is to never go out again, to never trust anyone again. Somehow it feels reassuring not to be put in a seemingly dangerous situation ever again. It is also worryingly isolating, and the exact answer expected by the bullies: a neutralized person, unable to think by and for herself anymore. However, the human mind is built to resist all attempt to degrade it. Victims will be depressed, for a short or a long period of time, but eventually, they overcome the trauma and live again. So the other way to deal with things is to live stronger, deeper, and to be acutely aware that each day might be the last to enjoy it at the fullest. That’s the point where we all become survivors, that’s when we all become resilient indeed. That is a reaction that no bully expects, as they failed to play you the way they want, but that’s the one reaction embraced by many ever since Charlie, and in spite of political cleavages deepening, for the worse, in our society, there is an overall and unswerving wish to defend our values, our way of life, our choices. Terrorists don’t care about our candles and our collective minutes of silence, but here is the thing, try as they might, their bombs aren’t going to change us either, if we decide to. They can, and probably will, kill more innocents, and it cuts very deep, it leaves scars, and tears, and insurmountable losses, but ultimately, they can only prevail if we let them.

Their attacks act as a catalyst for our deepest fears, but only so far as we allow them to. At one stage, mankind went so far as to commit mass murders in concentration camps. We came back from that dark place, and for a long time Europe lived in a relatively peaceful society. Today, another form of obscurantism is spreading upon us. We can chose our weapons. Indifference won’t work, because it touches us so deeply. Resilience, on the contrary, can help. It doesn’t heal, it doesn’t erase the horrors that happened and broke so many lives, but evil only wins if we are collectively no longer able to enjoy life. So the more we celebrate it, the more we live it to the fullest, the weaker they will become. So all we can do, in the light of the events, is to keep on living. Keep on laughing, dancing, loving, socializing, because there will be better tomorrows. It will take time, but humanity can prevail. Not tomorrow, not in a week, but eventually it will.

In Berlin, Bastille Day’s massacre led people – from all horizons, all cultures, all religions – to come in front of the French embassy to pay their respects, again, to the dead. Less than for Charlie, less than for November, but hundreds nonetheless. People wounded in their soul, in their memories of a beautiful country stained by violence. Lighting up frail candles blown by the wind. Again. However, the celebrations went on, because why stop living? That would mean that evil won and scared us all. French band Air played a free concert where their songs made the crowd dance away their sorrow, laugh as much as possible and cast benevolent glances to one another, united where before there would have been indifference. It almost looked like any other gig, except the feeling that some evil threat is creeping upon you and makes you dance harder, because you know that keeping on living as you used to and keeping your fears at bay has become an act of daily resilience.

 

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