Paris- No Words

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I don’t know what to say. I have jettisoned the words I was preparing to post for this week. They pale to the events in Paris and the 128 plus people dead at this moment. Six different venues targeted. The same words scroll across the bottom of the screen as images of people running in the night and people placing flowers, lighting candles, at a make shift shrine in the morning. I could become news junky, glued to the TV and listen to experts and world leaders try to help us make sense of the senseless.

But there is no sense here. There is violence; there is death; there is evil, unspeakable evil. But we have to speak of it; we have to no choice. World leaders have to assure us that everything is being done to protect us; that we stand with Paris and understand that the attack is a clash between cultures and civilizations. As Pope Francis put it just this morning: It is part of a piecemeal Third World War.

I’m struggling to say something new or profound. Maybe that is too hard a task. There is nothing new to say. We can reiterate what we have said before: We will fight for the survival of our values; we will do everything we can to protect ourselves; we will not surrender to fear; we will not be paralyzed by our anxieties. We have faced evil like this before, not necessarily in this specific form, but there have always been enemies of our way of life that have attacked at the rear of the column, where the unarmed, the unprepared, the frail and the innocent congregate.

It is a terrible fact of contemporary life. I still have CNN on and I watch as my grandchildren float in and out of the room and I wonder how they see this through their eyes. What does it do to their view of the world? Are they able to compartmentalize it and still giggle and laugh at the silly, the absurd, the imaginary?

Less is more in this case. The Bible says it best. “I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curse. Choose life that you and your children may live.” Fear is not an option. Isolation is not a choice. Hatred, stereotyping and collective blame do not help us deal effectively with how we go forward. Living does; loving does; affirming all that is good is our society will. Choosing to live.

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11 thoughts on “Paris- No Words

  1. I watched Brian Williams yesterday (late) talking with Rachel Maddow about the attack. I think he got it exactly right. He said that we are now in a third world war. ISIS, grown out of Osama’s original organization is now in all middle eastern countries with active organizations. Attacks like the Paris attack will become the normal way of creating havoc and terror on a large scale in different parts of the world. We have gone way beyond Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan if Brian Williams is right. It seems only a matter of time before we have the same kind of attacks happening here at home. More and more, the war in Syria seems to me as if it’s becoming almost irrelevant.

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    • So the cold reality is that it will be impossible to eliminate suicidal terrorist extremists. However, you can manage the threat much more effectively, and one only has to look as far as Israel to see how that’s done. They may be the only democratic country that “get’s it” when it comes to dealing with this chronic, horrific problem. It does require sacrifices of privacy, sometimes civil rights, however that’s the cost of living, comparatively safely, in today’s world.I guess that’s what living in a tough neighborhood teaches you. Ironic that it’s probably the only place that knows how to keep a lid on this stuff, most of the time, and is doing it.

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  2. To your point about how children react to news like this they see on TV, young children get very scared. They don’t have the perspective adults have of understanding that events like this or shootings on the local news are not happening in their neighborhood. Even when you don’t think kids are paying attention to TV, they are. Parents are now advised to turn off TV news when young kids are around.

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  3. I especially like the last paragraph. We can either live in fear, or live. I choose to live. The terrorists win if we let them take over our outlook on life.

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  4. 140 + dead and hundreds wounded is certainly not a thing to ignore… but… to have Facebook aflutter with the tri-colour French flag coupled with statements of remorse seems overdone, bordering on farcical when one considers the global picture. Only 8 months ago, thousands of people were killed and injured in Nepal yet today the medial has moved on and there are no Nepal flags to be found on Facebook, likewise our neighbor Haiti still suffering from 5 years ago. Where is the media? Where are the Facebook flags? But why be so limited? More that a MILLION people have died and/or are dying in the nations of Sub Saharan Africa where are the statements of remorse and the flags of the “do gooders” on Facebook? I will not raise the specter of the Middle East lest this turns into a finger pointing exercise. The fickle media only adds fodder to these situations by their 30 second snippets of wounded and crying children and mothers, then they ghoulishly move on to the next disaster of the day. You get the idea. Sure the USA has a “history” with France but let’s not forget the rampant anti-Semitism again blooming in the land of “liberte’, egalite’ fraternite’ “. We should not forget the lessons of history, not only from our Torah but also the past Roman government, the past Spanish government, the past church leaders, and the past German government. Thanks to the electronics of this modern age, the tragedy of the week is very immediate and real. The presentations pound your emotions both by inciting and numbing the senses. Just some passing thoughts.

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