Bloggers in France, Lebanon, and beyond share their stories, analyses, and art after a week of violence.
“Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be”: Bloggers on Paris and Beirut
Telling stories has power; they connect us, help us work through the raw emotion, and give us a way to make sense of events. After last week’s devastating violence in Paris and Beirut, these nine bloggers shared theirs, helping us do just that. Reading their posts may not be easy — but it is important.
Cultive le Web, “Attentats à Paris, j’étais rue de Charonne“
A writer from Cultive le Web was out for an evening with friends Friday night when shooting began on the rue de Charonne. The staccato phrasing of this play-by-play post captures brings readers some tiny measure of the fear, panic, and disbelief. It’s an unvarnished outpouring we wish he had no occasion to write, but are glad he did.
9:45 p.m. Noise, screams. A fight? A rowdy crowd there at the bar? They must be drunk, like on any Friday night in Paris, right? I come closer. A group of people has formed on the other side of the sidewalk. “Kalashnikov shots.” “Casualties.” “Dozens of casualties.” “Broken glass, everywhere.” There’s a gush of details — who to believe? What to make out of this? What are they talking about? A shoot-out? Settling scores like in Marseille? But thinking about it, why not a terrorist attack? I ask, naively. “Obviously it’s a terrorist attack!” answer the patrons who’d fled running, all at once.*
*Translated from the French by WordPress.com editor Ben Huberman.
The Seventy Fifth, “Sense and Senselessness“
Patrick lives in Paris’ 11e arrondissement, a short walk from Le Bataclan. Waking up the morning after Friday’s attacks, he looks for patterns in the violence that might give him hints for staying safe — but finds none.
It makes sense, sadly, that an attack may occur at or near a French football match – the President was there, after all. We can avoid large displays of nationalism, sports, culture or otherwise. But must we also avoid all American rock bands? Was it something about the name Eagles of Death Metal? Do we stay inside on Friday the 13th? Never patronise Cambodian restaurants? How long is a piece of string?
Hummus for Thought, “Beirut, Paris“
Paris isn’t the only city in mourning; bombings in Beirut last week left over 40 people dead. Lebanese blogger Joey reflects on the lack of global attention on Lebanon, with sense of resignation tempered by the hope that we can do better.
‘We’ don’t get a safe button on Facebook. ‘We’ don’t get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users.
‘We’ don’t change policies which will affect the lives of countless innocent refugees.
This could not be clearer.
I say this with no resentment whatsoever, just sadness.
A Separate State of Mind, “From Beirut, This is Paris“
On A Separate State of Mind, Elie reacts with more anger than resignation — anger at the world for caring more about Paris, but also at his countrymen and women for seeming to do the same.
We can ask for the world to think Beirut is as important as Paris, or for Facebook to add a “safety check” button for us to use daily, or for people to care about us. But the truth of the matter is, we are a people that doesn’t care about itself. We call it habituation, but it’s really not. We call it the new normal, but if this [is] normality then let it go to hell.
In the world that doesn’t care about Arab lives, Arabs lead the front lines.
Everybody’s Talking at Once, “How Refusing to Be United Makes Us Stronger“
Video game blogger Drew turned to more serious topics after the attacks on Paris, penning a thought-provoking post on whether being “united” against terror is a laudable goal, or a positive idea at all.
It’s a sobering (and, it must be said, fundamentally French) thought: That the people killed in Paris “had declared war” on terrorism not because they imagined themselves conscripted into a fighting force, and certainly not because they marched in cultural and rhetorical lockstep, but specifically because they weren’t in lockstep. They were living out the messier, more joyful, less “united” way of life that terrorism seeks to undermine…
We don’t have to be united. We don’t have to agree. We don’t always have to “stand together,” even. That’s precisely what makes us strong, and that’s precisely what makes our way of life worth defending.
John Scalzi, “Paris“
Author John Scalzi also veered from his regular bailiwick, science-fiction. His short but impassioned piece exhorts us to avoid giving credence to the Islamic State’s black-and-white worldview by refusing to conflate “Muslim” and “terrorist.”
Don’t do what ISIS wants you to do. Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be, and to be to Muslims. Be smarter than they want you to be. All it takes is for you to imagine the average Muslim to be like you, than to be like ISIS. If you can do that, you make a better world, and a more difficult one for groups like ISIS to exist in.
Idiot Joy Showland, “How to Politicise a Tragedy“
Analyses of tragic situations are quickly followed by calls to stop politicizing tragedy — i.e., to stop analyzing at all, and allow people space to grieve. Idiot Joy Showland‘s Sam Kriss rejects that request, explaining why in this cogent piece.
When it’s deployed honestly, the command to not politicise means to not make someone’s death about something else: it’s not about the issue you’ve always cared about; it’s not about you. To do this is one type of politics. But there’s another. Insisting on the humanity of the victims is also a political act, and as tragedy is spun into civilisational conflict or an excuse to victimise those who are already victims, it’s a very necessary one.
Natalia Antonova, “In Paris they ask the right questions“
Natalia’s poem was written well before last week’s events but published this week, a fitting tribute to the city of love.
In Paris they ask the right questions:
“Cognac, armagnac, or calvados?”
And, “Why are your eyes so blue?”
“Do you know how to get back home?”
“Is it finally time to kiss you?”
Pascale Guillou, “Restoring Hope and Innocence“
Illustrator Pascale, a Frenchwoman living in the Netherlands, reacted with pen and ink. Her lines are simple but heartbreaking, reminding us of something we all want but can’t have — whether we’re in France, Lebanon, or anywhere else.
Please feel free to share the posts that moved you and made you think in the comments.
- Nov 18, 2015 @ 4:00 pm
This is such a nice post.. I browsed through the blogs and they were beautiful.. I also shared some of my thoughts on my blog if anybody wants to read it. Quite emotional to be honest. I am just thankful that despite these terrible things, we all condemn with fierce unity, against violence and injustice. https://paperspensandperidot.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/to-paris-with-love/
Good Day to You,
A close friend of ours was in Paris, just weeks ago as part of her Bachelor’s Degree training.
We are so grateful she is back home in Maine. Her Facebook page has a picture of her and some classmates with the famous Tower in the background.
We plan to spend Thanksgiving with her next week, and are truly grateful.
The drawing by Pascale Guillou is very powerful to me.
In the not too distant past, when anti-war protesters were having “sit-ins”, we had no idea how overwhelmingly complicated and fearsome the minds of people could become.
It used to be that Hitler seemed like the Anti-Christ, now it’s hard to know what to think, or why such violence happens, for reasons that make no sense.
We had no idea how “innocent” our lives were, because in that moment of time life seemed so complicated.
This violence, to innocent people, suicide bombings and the rest force us to be more careful and threaten our very way of life.
If we don’t take the time to be thankful for the innocence in our lives, and live in the moment, our freedom of thought and individual freedoms will be compromised.
This may not be new, but seems more powerful to me now than ever, for everyone who is compromised, wherever you are.
“Power to the People”
My Best to You
There are some really great posts here. Poignant comes to mind.
I was sitting in my office, my lap top at the dining room table, listening and watching Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with my 2 year old granddaughter Jazmin. She was sitting on my knee.
As we were listening to the ipad I was also reading the posts here on word press, the Paris and Beirut round up.
What a contrast. Jazmin, who is 2 and so sweet and innocent and has no idea of life outside her home, her mum, her cot, sleeping, having a clean bottom, a bottle to take to bed and toys to cuddle.
Then the contrasting sorrow and grief that has struck the hearts of the world after the attacks in Paris. How can innocence and peace and love and joy exist alongside such terror and sorrow?
I am stunned and sad and flabbergasted by the terrorist attacks and the devastation that is left behind, the aftermath. I don’t know what to say or how to make it better. I do think with the power of prayer and with such an outpouring of support for the French people, maybe, one day, we can all make a difference. If enough people believe and want and need peace, then maybe it will happen. I hope so. I wish for it with all my heart!
Thank you Michelle and wordpress for providing such a great platform for people to express themselves.
Im Noémie, I’m French. This is what I wrote today about the recent events in Paris…
It is important that following tragic events people support each other. Fear is an overwhelming emotion and it can be kept at bay by strength and unity with others. It is interesting that we are in a time when we can virtually support one another. What happened in Paris is horrific and there are definitely other tragedies that took place during and around the same time. It is important to stick together through these tough times instead of tearing each other down. There has been some opinion of anger that Paris received more sympathy than others, which is a horrible thing. Every innocent life should be remembered and honoured. The above posts are both touching and heart wrenching. They display many different emotions, but the silver lining is that people want peace. It is important to know that there are fewer evil people doing these horrific acts, than there are good people who want to unite. The good will outweigh the evil.
Thanks for creating a place where we can share about what happens in Paris and elsewhere…
I’m from that area. For sure, I’m moved by any place touched in the world by the attacks…still, Paris is special to me too because it’s a home, a shelter for the people i love, a whole symbolism of freedom, grace & history… every place deserves peace. And there is no excuse to any crime…
I couldn’t just stay at home when it happened. I had to play a bit and go to Republique to lit a candle too. To pray, to write a song about my feelings… https://binisun.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/a-song-for-peace-holy-soldier/
Still, I feel it will be a long process. It’s important to keep opening oneself in spite of fears, to keep spreading warmth in the subway in spite of the freezing atmosphere… to shine even more through that darkness because it is the only way to make it through…
I live abroad. I go back to Paris once a year. To see friends and family. Was there in July-August. Needless to say I am devastated, but my compatriots’ reaction has made me proud. in less than a couple of days three words have emerged:
“Même pas peur”
“Not even afraid”, what someone would in the school yard to bullies who just beat the hell out of him/her. Face the bully wipe your bloody nose and say:
Know what? I’m not even afraid.
Vive la France.
During these tough times following the Paris attack, I just realized why some people have different views on the empathy given towards Paris. Some may feel that it is time that the unheard voices be heard, whereas some say that is not the point of all this. I must say i agree with the latter, if we highlight the oppression in other parts of the world, the Muslim community in Paris will pay for our lack of sympathy towards them. Either ways we are at a loss. There is also news spreading on racial issues in Paris, which will only create hate towards the French, spreading hate cannot possibly bring out love. Same thing goes about revenge, an eye for an eye is not the solution, two wrongs don’t make a right. So if people are hating, don’t show hate, instead show love. We can’t possibly change the world, but we can certainly start with ourselves. Do what we want the world to do. No hate, no racism, no war.
I myself wrote about this (but it’s in german, so I don’t share it here). I had to write about how much more we feel connected to people dying close to us than to those who die in farer countries. But that the mourning for Paris suddenly started to get used against those who are dying close to us, too. Thousands of them, drowing, freezing and we turn our backs on them because we are afraid. Lets Paris be a sign for Europe not to turn our backs to those fleeing terror!
Hi Michelle W — Thank you for this. Many thoughtful and sensitive bloggers out there. Too bad the enemy can’t be sensitive. I guess maybe they are in their own way, but something big is lost in the translation, don’t you think?
Could I suggest you check out my own little contribution? I posted it Monday. It’s called “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” It reads “The last time I saw Paris, Paris was at peace…”
Being a Dutchman and living in the USA, and having studied, worked and lived in Paris, I wrote my post “Black Friday in Paris” that same night at http://johnschwartzauthor.com
I only now see the many other posts. A good compilation, Michelle, so I add mine. Meanwhile events in Paris have progressed, amazingly, while the US scene continues to perplex me.
I’m not from Paris or Beirut, but I made a post anyways, and I thought I would share it here if that is okay. On Being Human in a World of Terror
Thanks for sharing this. Lots of lesson to learn there. Still, i was wondering, if it was only Beirut that had happened, would you have shared this newsletter with a review of bloggers that are mourning.
In this exercise to be united agaisnt terrorism, there remains this natural move of feeling more sorry for the ones you know about (Paris, London, etc) than the ones the news have already painted as endemic victims (Lebanon, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc).
thanks again for sharing though.
I kept wondering about the huge gaps between the two attacks (Paris and Beirut) shown all around the media and social networks. The only logical (somewhat) conclusion that I could manage to squeeze out is that, while both attacks SHOULD have received the same attention, the one in Paris shocked the world a lot more quite simply because it’s practically one of the main capitals of Europe. I assume that many people consider an attack in the middle east a relatively established norm by now (though, naturally, it shouldn’t be considered that way), but when an attack forms outside, especially in a western oriented country, the tables turn, flip and so do people. Despite that, I do hope the media and social media coverage will spread out more to the middle east. Though Europe is on high alert (and rightly so – better safe than sorry), people need to realise that we are far from being in a threat level that’s as extreme and devastating as it is in the middle east.
Prayers and best thoughts to the ones who’ve suffered.
Ah, this makes me sad. The way the world has become. Everyone has opposing views when it comes to the situation. Either way, no matter where you stand you can attest to the fact that each individual is human. And it is human to sympathize with a fallen brother due to evil in the world, no matter where or how it’s happened. No matter if you are from Paris, Germany, The United States, Beirut, Syria, etc…we all bleed the same and we all have an expiration date. It’s unfair how the media portrays these things. We all need to find a way of looking at the world in a more human perspective, like that of this post. Very insightful. I’ll be praying for all of those affected.
Reblogged this on You Don't Know Me, But You Will… and commented:
It’s awesome to see so many amazing and talented bloggers chime in on the issue of the Paris attacks this past week. I hope we can keep the conversation going about what it all really means, from our attitudes about humanitarianism to terrorism, and what will eventually help us to evolve (or implode) as human beings all sharing the same world. It is a wonderful, and at the same time wretched place. Writers are the spokespersons and keepers of time.
I agree with these comments totally. On Facebook there are a lot of similar comments, and most people have coloured their profile photo with the French flag in support of this dreadful event. Interestingly one Muslim girl showed a photo of herself, holding a placard which said all Muslims are not terrorists.