Today, I’m nineteen, and I’m more French than I’ve ever been. I’ve grown up in those streets, I’ve spoken this language, I’ve seen those city lights. I’ve loved and hated and despised and adored my country, but no matter what, I’ve always been French.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” Harry Potter.
Today, I’m French and if I’m honest, I’m terrified. Terrified to see the cities I love lost in death and blood, terrified to picture people hiding under their seats and children running behind chairs to protect themselves, terrified to picture lovers embracing each other behind a café counter trying to be as quiet as possible. Terrified to think of the horror, terror that those people felt, and terrified that it could have been me. Terrified to think it could have been anyone I loved - it almost was. I am terrified to see my country in a state of war because I do not want my kids to be raised in a country covered in blood. Terrified to think of those people that never had a safe home in the streets of Paris, lost, and desperate.
“It is important to fight and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay though never quite eradicated.” Harry Potter.
Because today, I am French, and I am heartbroken. I may be writing in a different language that the one that sang me to sleep and taught me to count, this country is mine, and I love it. And I can not stop crying at the thought of families learning the death of their loved ones, I can not stop crying at what the people must have felt as they hid under a stage or a table or ran in streets they’ve loved, fleeing from a violence nobody should ever have to experience. Alas, too many do. I can not stop crying at the idea of a child too scared to walk to school. I can not stop crying as I hear the death toll raise from a huge number to another even more terrible, I can not stop crying because this is my country, this is my nation, and those people, no matter where they come from, are my people.
“You shall not murder.” Bible, Exodus, 20:13
Because today, I am French and I am thankful, selfishly. Thankful that my prayers have been answered and that the ones I loved are safe and sound. And thankful, most of all, that if we turned our own lights off to mourn, the rest of the world turned their blues and whites and reds on so that we can know that today, we are not alone. Thankful for the huge amount of the support we’re receiving, thankful for the smart and kind people that gave shelters to lost souls, and thankful for the quick-thinkers that spread the word yesterday.
“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” Harry Potter.
Today, I am French, and I am terrified and heartbroken and thankful but I will not let myself be so scared that I won’t let my life live its course. Today I’m gonna pray and I am gonna live just like I did yesterday and the day before that. We cannot let fear win. Today I am French and I stand with my fellow Frenchmen that believe in another god, that have another skin color or that found shelter in our country that is so much safer than theirs, I stand with all those people that are just as French as me and that will be blamed for an action they blame just as much as we do.
“Dome not Nigh to shameful deeds, Whether open or secret; Take not life, which God Hath made sacred” - Quran, VI, 151
Today I’m French, but by heart I’m also Lebanese and Iraqui. May we all stand together.
Today I’m French, and no matter where you grew up, what language you speak, or where you are right now, you’re a little bit French, too. And for that, I say thank you.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Harry Potter.