(source: time)[The focus of this piece is on the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. I have connections with these places so they naturally hit harder. This is not to discredit the terror occurring in Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, Syria, Nigeria, or any of the other [too] numerous places that experience terror today]
I’ve lived in Paris and I’ve visited Brussels. I’ve fallen in love with the French language and culture and I’ve explored the streets of both beautiful cities.
Nothing hurts more than seeing these cities attacked by ruthless terrorists. My heart aches for those innocent people coldly murdered. I tremble thinking about the loss of life and the indiscriminate use of violence in these civilian areas.
The day of the Paris attacks, I sat glued to France 24, which I had live streaming on YouTube. I waited for news on my friends, my host family, whom I slowly found out were out of harm’s way. I imagined the gunfire going off on these familiar streets and cried. I imagined something so horrible happening in my former home and cried. I thought of all the lives lost and cried. I cried for the friends, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, and boyfriends who lost someone that day.
But I did not let this change my view of Paris. Paris is strong. So are its citizens. People came together in the face of fear in solidarity to show that they are not afraid of these monsters. They are resilient and I know that nothing can keep them down.
Fast forward to a few days ago. Brussels was hit. At the metro and at the airport. While I’ve only visited, I have friends that frequent its streets and call it home. They could have been among those killed. I found out that they were safe.
Again, my heart aches for this loss of innocent life. But according to many news sources, such terrorism is “the new normal”. Is it normal that loved ones are still dying? Is it normal for loss in such violent means to make us care less? Not in my opinion.
A close friend of mine knows two people who were killed in Brussels at the airport counter. My heart breaks for her, her family, and the other families and friends affected. My heart aches knowing how little I can do.
While it may seem “far away” or like “the new normal”, terror is inescapable for the time being. Unfortunately, it is normal that it should occur, but it is not normal that it should mean any less each time it occurs. This time, for me, and for many others, it hit home.
However, I am not afraid. I will still travel (if/when I have the money) to these places. I will not campaign for the closing of borders because of a small percentage of evil jihadists. I will not let them control my life. I want to dedicate my life to stopping such violence from becoming normal. I do not know yet what path this will take, but I do know that we cannot live our lives in fear of what could happen. We can only live them to the fullest, loving, laughing, and being with those we love. This time, terror hit home. But we can’t let it take away who we are.