Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A crumb of comfort from Paris

Today's crumb comes from a reader in Paris, France, who describes the rally last Sunday after 17 people died during three days of deadly attacks in the city. More than 40 world leaders joined more than a million Parisians, linking arms in solidarity. Our reader writes:

"The French were stunned by the attacks, but not shocked. There is a ticking time bomb  in a population here, and one explosion just went off, so to speak. No doubt there will be some soul-searching and changes over the next months and years. Let's hope the changes are not just reactive, but proactive, and not just security-based, but cultural. Let's search for the good that must come from this terrible event. Here's a photo I took.

"My husband and I decided to take the kids to the rally on Sunday. It would be a part of history, and was too important to stay home. When we got to the metro, there was no room on the platform. Each train that came was already full, admitting only a few passengers. We got on the 6th train. Every part of your body touched the person next to you. No one was cranky. Everyone said 'Pardon' as we invaded each other's space. Each station we passed had a full platform. When we got off, it took us 15 minutes just to get out of the crowded station. And then...how can I describe it? There was someone in every square foot from the edge of the buildings, over the sidewalks and four lanes of boulevard to the other buildings, as far as we could see. The mood was uplifting because everyone was extremely calm and polite; not happy, but truly content to be part of this movement. They carried signs and children. Some chanted or clapped. They were all determined, but their determination stemmed from peace, not anger. I felt honored to be there.

"I am encouraged and buoyed by what I've seen in the past few days. But the landscape has changed. There are security guards outside our children's school, and Gendarmerie patrolling the metro. Terrorist organizations have threatened more violence. The Jewish population is terrified. My Jewish friend Michelle came here with her parents in the '60s to escape persecution. Now she's 76, and preparing to leave for the US or Israel, for the same reason.

"May we all strive to exhibit tolerance and understanding. May we work to stem the violence. It's never someone else's problem -- it's our problem as well."

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