For so many of us, today was filled with disbelief, sadness and shock as more details emerged about the brutal and horrific terror attacks that struck the beautiful and vibrant city of Paris yesterday. Tonight and after hours of trying to process the magnitude of yet another assault on our fellow human beings and threatening our way of life, I feel angry, sad and yes afraid. Countless news reports, articles, posts and tweets have invaded our homes only to leave us shaken and trying to absorb and comprehend the images of devastation, carnage and blood shed that violently stole the security and innocence of one of our allies and far too many lives were lost. My heart breaks for Paris, for those whose lives were cut short in a senseless and cowardly act, for those injured and fighting to survive, for the families and friends that lost loved ones, for our children and for the world.
While the attacks yesterday specifically targeted Paris, there have been numerous attacks on humanity in recent weeks and with the threats from ISIS and the warning of a coming storm, it leaves all of us wondering what is next. This is a global crisis that has forced people from all over the world to be on high alert and sadly, the nightmare and bloodbath that spilled into the streets of Paris last night has reminded us of how vulnerable we truly are. In the wake of this brutality we stand together with those in Paris and around the world united in our grief and tears because this happened to our fellow human beings and in part, because we know at our deepest core that this could have happened anywhere. This could have happened here and yes, I AM afraid.
As I sat in a restaurant tonight it was impossible to not think about Paris and I could not stop thinking about the terror any one of us would feel if terrorists happened to show up here. I truly cannot comprehend the panic, fear and desperation the victims must have felt. So many lives were lost at the hands of barbarians and it feels much too close. While I do not know any of the victims, there is a harsh reality that the lives of those that died and those that were injured mirror our very own lives. Stories and the pictures of men and women are starting to emerge and they are no different than you or me. They were sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, co-workers, students and friends. These are people that had a life and were doing what each and every one of us do every day. These people were living life. They had families, friends, jobs. They had hopes, dreams, struggles and plans. They had calls to make, projects to complete and homework to do. These people were simply enjoying life on what started out to be a normal Friday night. How many times have any of us gone out on a Friday night after a long week of school and work, looking forward to relaxing with family and friends, sipping on a glass of wine, enjoying dinner, going to a concert or attending a sporting event?
Our innocence and sense of peace has once again been stripped away and as we grieve and mourn with the rest of the world, we are left with the question of what can we do and what happens next. How does this city begin to recover? How do the people go back to living a life feeling secure, safe and able to trust again? We as a nation know this pain and fear all too well following 9/11. We stood together as a country and we did heal and we did rebuild and we learned to live life again but our lives were forever changed and we will never be the same. The reality of the brutal and coordinated attacks have opened wounds leaving people around the world inflicted with emotion, uncertainty and fear.
There are many unanswered questions and it is hard to know what to do. The fear and sadness is overwhelming and once again lives have been changed forever. With that being said, I have witnessed the beauty in humanity as countless acts of kindness and resilience have emerged in Paris, around the globe and in the wake of darkness. Thousands of people are standing in solidarity, countries are coming together, lights in red, white and blue are shining everywhere and the people of Paris are standing in the streets holding signs saying “not afraid”. The people in Paris are fighting back and we too must do the same. We cannot give in to these cowards and we must continue to live our lives. We cannot allow terrorists to change who we are. We must continue to unite, to stand strong together and to stand beside and in support of those that need us in these moments of darkness. We need to hang on to hope and as we stand with Paris and the rest of the world through this newest wave of loss and grief, we must find a way to push on and rise up against the terrorists that are trying to take over the world and change life as we know it.
I AM afraid but through the fears, the emptiness and the sadness I will find the strength to live my life in the best way I possibly can. I will hang on to hope. Love hard. Take nothing for granted. Be kind and help others when I can. My hope is that in the days ahead my children will do the same. Pray for Paris. Pray for peace in this world. Pray for those that are suffering. Pray for healing. Pray for courage and strength. Pray for answers. Pray for each other and pray for life.