Today is my birthday. I turn a quarter of a century old.
But, my heart is not feeling fun. It is still tearing from the sadness of what happened to my country, to my people, to my city.
Today, more than ever, I am proud to be a French Woman. They can try to fight us all they want, their madness will never win. My country is so many things. Among them, it is: open, cultural, historical, thoughtful, loving, joyful, full of good food, fun, united… But there is something my country isn’t and will never be: resigned.
President Obama was one of the first Presidents to speak during the Paris Attacks. His kind words have tended to my heart and helped ease my stomach.
His words in French are still resonating in me: « liberté, égalité et fraternité ». These are the values of my country, and these are also the values of the people of the United States. We share these values together, we fight for them together, and unfortunately, sometimes some of us die for them. My country is fighting, and will fight again and again, side by side with others to be sure that these values survive. Fighting is not only aiming missiles at camps and killing terrorists. Fighting is also educating children, no longer putting people into boxes, and actually listening and being challenged by persons from different cultures and backgrounds, and understanding that diversity makes the world a better place.
Every life counts. That is why I also think about the people who have to endure these horrors every day and have to leave their houses, and why I also think about the people who died in similar attacks in Tunisia, Turkey or Lebanon. I think about every life damaged or taken by Daesh.
During the opening speech at the Versailles Congress on November 16th, Claude Bartolone said: « each tear, each drop of blood spilled will reinforce our Resistance ».
These events will indeed reinforces the Resistance. But I really hope that as we take steps to fight them, we consider that we need to not only help « deradicalize » and eliminate Daesh, but also make sure that it doesn’t take another form. I hope that in taking these steps, we don’t put security considerations above all others and reject those who turn to divisive speech.
It rains in my heart as my city bleeds. I feel so far away from my country, and so close to my nation. For the first time since I arrived in the U.S., I miss my France. I would love to hug my friends and family, to tell them that no matter what, I will always love them.
For my birthday, I dream about a normal day, sitting in a terrace in a Paris Bistrot like these women. Wearing a skirt and heels, drinking coffee or a glass of wine, and chatting with friends. France will always be a country to enjoy yourself, no matter what.
Because I can’t do that, I light some candles in memory of my fellow citizens and to make my beautiful Paris shine again.
« International educational exchange is the most significant current project designed to continue the process of humanizing mankind to the point, we would hope, that men can learn to live in peace–eventually even to cooperate in constructive activities rather than compete in a mindless contest of mutual destruction… We must try to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy and perception, and there is no way of doing that except through education. »
– J. William Fulbright on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Fulbright Program, 1976