Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Nous sommes Parisians, but I’m not gawping

It’s been ten days since the terrorist attacks in Paris. A week and a half in which something approaching life has continued, but people have become variously scared, defiant, distrustful.

The present concerns are whether the political response of bombing the hell out of Syria is wise, and resistance to the French government’ s move to constrain personal freedoms. For the French, Liberté is a very serious tenant, even in a state of emergency.

On a daily basis these things concern me much less than my neighbours. Je suis Paris, but I have long since given up on active political engagement as it does no good to my health. I cannot over-fill my mind and heart or they will break completely. That’s why I will not be going to Place de la Republique to look at the growing shrine to the dead. It’s the reason why I do not join the collective mourning.

My only contact with public expressions of grief and outrage was the floral tributes at the school gate next to my apartment building  It was hard to avoid the white flowers, candles and messages from the pupils for their murdered music teacher. And impossible to side-step the girl walking towards me one morning last week, carrying a perfect rose, her expression of sadness not one any child should know.

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