I don’t have anything new and useful to say about this, or about the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad that preceded it.
I note that in Paris they struck at cosmopolitan venues: a concert by an American band, a football game with Germany, places with tourists and people who move easily from culture to culture. They struck not just to kill, but to hurt and terrify, and they did all of those things.
There was also generosity, because people open their doors to strangers; taxi drivers get people home safe and worry about the money another day. More people do this, and do it more consistently, than those who kill and harm.
And now others with no skin in the game are all over the place being awful, furthering the murderers’ cause of dividing us all, blaming this easy target or that. There will be hate crimes, and hate. Because—particularly outside of the moment and venue of the crisis itself—there are many who are afraid and vulnerable, and there are some terrible seed crystals floating around in our culture, looking to grow.
This last point makes me tense on a more immediate level as well. My village (which, even if you know its name, please do not identify in the comments) is hosting about 100 refugees next week. The meeting to discuss whether to do so was divided between the civil majority arguing for their stay and the rather alarming minority arguing against it*. The meeting to coordinate volunteers was full and a little overwhelmed†, but that minority is still among us. What will happen next week? Can we keep these vulnerable, hurt people from being further traumatized?
And on a broader basis, can we, how can we, keep all our vulnerable, hurt selves from being further traumatized? Both the ones who turn to grief and the ones who turn to hate? I don’t know of any answer but solidarity. So if you’re the prayin’ type, pray with me; if you’re the crying sort, I have tissues. If you’re a talker, come here and talk.
I’m afraid that if you’re the hating type, the shouting kind, the angry sort, I’m going to ask you to leave. And I’d urge you to think where the road you’re walking down leads, and whether you want to build your life in the place where it ends. I hope you have the courage and strength to find a better path.
* plus a third set of people who wanted to have a go at the city council.
† Martin went, but I didn’t, because other overwhelm. So I didn’t get any of the prized “actually help out in the shelter” slots. I’ll do laundry and clothing repairs offsite.