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We Might Not Have Paris

Paris_at_night,_4_July_2013.jpg

Who can forget that pivotal moment in Casablanca, when Humphrey Bogart leans in and says “We’ll always have Paris” to Ingrid Bergman? Founded in the 3rd century B.C., it would seem that Paris can withstand anything. Sadly, that resolve has been tested and unless significant change is instrumented, we might lose the treasure known as Paris along with the others already lost.

My daughter and I would have been in Paris next week had the brutality of November 13th not transpired. Go anyway, said the tour operator. Never a safer time to travel they said. Except that’s not true. In our experience, nowhere is more precarious than a destination reeling from a terrorist attack.  

Why not take the chance? Because living in a bedroom community of New York City means we witnessed first-hand how terrorism paralyzes a city. We sobbed with our neighbors when we learned who wasn’t coming home on the night of 9/11. We drove past the commuter train lots daily, only to see the same cars parked there, waiting for drivers who were never going to return. And we tried to engage the false bravado of rushing back “to life as normal” one week later – after all, let’s not let them win and change our way of life was the battle cry – which resulted in me picking my client up off the sidewalk after she collapsed sobbing in a fetal position outside of Penn Station. The air was mordant; the city’s energy motionless. It was anything but normal, no matter what we wanted to tell ourselves.

Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center. They’ve destroyed Nimrud, the 3,000 year old ancient city in Iraq. Now they’ve assaulted the joie de vivre of Paris. And on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, where 11 lives were taken and 11 others wounded. Parisians are known to be resilient; at the end of the Second World War, their city was in ruins. Yes, they rebuilt; yet, in terms of temporary setbacks vs. permanent devastation, buildings can always be replaced. Lives cannot. Nor can the innocence of younger generations who’ve never known the world without the 24/7 news stream of global terror. No shore is safe, no group immune from attacks.

I’m praying for Paris. More than that, I’m praying that our world leaders remember these acts of terror are not isolated incidents. It no longer matters how and when the dissonance started; simply put, we don’t have the luxury of time to analyze such academics.

Consider this one more voice calling out to you. Please put partisanship issues aside in the interest of humanity. Please. People’s lives depend on it. Paris depends on it.