Saturday, November 12, 2016

On this day...

I like the feature from Facebook "On this day...", it usually brings a smile to my face as it brings back memories. However today it brought more of a bitter sweet one.

Here I was, a year ago, in the City of Lights for work and intent on having a fun night with a friend with some live music. Indeed we had a fun night, the jazz dinner turned into an all nighter around Paris and it was fun, the kind of spontaneous fun that comes from unplanned activities and good company, complete with laughter and walk back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning.

Hard to believe that the next day would be such a dramatic one, hard to believe that the tragic events in Paris would enfold a few hours from all our fun and innocence and pretty much in the same parts of town we were that night. I have not been directly affected by the Paris shootings. I was driving between Luxembourg and Paris at the time and was unaware, until the phone call from a close friend asking if I was safe and nowhere near the shootings. I was indeed safe. From that moment, I turned on the radio and the ugly world of hate and terrorism came crashing down around me in the car. It felt unreal (still does). I don't mean to say that I thought Paris or Europe was safe from terror, that would be arrogant. But really, random people sitting at a bar, attending a concert, doing what we do on a Friday night, simply shot and killed? This is the stuff of movies, no? I remember this was my first thought when in September 2001, I was watching the towers come down on my TV in Singapore. Similarly when buses and tubes blew up in London, trains in Spain, bars in Bali. 

Then there was Charlie, January 2015. An uneasy feeling came over me and it hasn't left me since, it just grows with each sad and worrying event the world throws at us since. I wasn't Charlie, it is not a publication I read, but it was a publication in a country with freedom of speech and press. And yes, I did think they were pushing boundaries most of the time. But we didn't get killed for a cartoon in that country. That is until that January day... 

Then Paris happened. Again we were not a country where it was risky to go about your life, have a drink, go to a concert... And overnight, it was. And suddenly these actions lost all sense. Charlie, I could still sort of imagine that in someone's unbalanced and righteous mind, there was a justification of killing the artists behind the cartoons that offended that unbalanced mind. But Paris, there is no way in which my mind can see a reasoning to targeting random John and Jane Doe on a terrace. How sad that this country raises such unhappy, unbalanced youth that sees no other way than radicalism and terrorism. How terribly worrying... 

Since Paris, there was Brussels, Nice... And constant increasing levels of tension, hate, anger and extremes. The UK is exiting, the US elected a Donald that is not the one I remember from the Disney Channel growing up. We all laughed and joked that he wouldn't go through. Yet the world has proven us wrong. I hear the same discussions about France's equivalent political woman. I am dreading what May 2017 will bring. Yet I hope that humans as a whole will awaken to the good in them. But I have to say that currently each time I hear the news, I feel the world wants to prove me wrong in my belief that humans are good inherently, even if there are exceptions. It seems the exceptions have taken over and keep doing so. We live in a world where people have to decide that collateral damages are ok so they can destroy terrorists who would inflict even more damages. This was the topic of the movie I watched tonight.

May be not the best choice when feeling emotional about the state of the world. But on the other hand a very interesting debate on ethics and how to do the "right" thing. I use right lightly as war and destruction is never the right thing, but we are in a world where kill or be killed has become normal. 

Where is the tolerance, patience, understanding and love? Utopist? I guess, but I believe that it is possible to respect our differences, to tolerate others, to understand through dialogue. And above all, to love our fellow men and women.