Keeping retirement weird. Paris

A few hours before the news of the Paris attacks started to appear online I was talking to a family member who told me she was heading for Paris on Sunday.

“Great,” I said. “I love Paris.”

She asked for advice on what to see and what to do.

“Just go where the travel books tell you. It’s all good.”

Who doesn’t love Paris who has ever been there?

Anne and I have been there more than once. By a twist of fate, my wife was born in Paris while her father studied art history.

In 1968 I was in Paris just after the student protests of May and June.

In 1991 Anne and I made our first trip there together. Our first trip abroad together.

And, as I said, other times since.

We chose to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary there.

The odd thing is that when I visualized the attack yesterday, the first image in my head was not of Paris. The image in my mind’s eye was from the film Battle of Algiers, when bombs went off in restaurants serving the French colonialists.

I also flashed on memories of walking the long outdoor market on the boulevard in the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville. Algerian men were selling fish, goat and couscous and flirting with my wife.

We would both be standing in front of the food stall, but they acknowledged only her. “Good morning, miss.” And I would smile.

I am smiling now at the memory.

I am reading posts on Facebook this morning from friends who are in Paris announcing they are safe.

My daughter’s neighbors in Brooklyn are on that list. Safe. Their children play with my grandchildren.

I can see Paris in my head.

But I cannot see Beirut because I have never been there.

I cannot visualize Damascus.

I cannot begin to imagine Baghdad.


This is making the rounds on Facebook this morning:

It is not Paris we should pray for.

It is the world.

It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings two days before Paris, is not covered in the press.

A world in which a bomb goes off at a funeral in Baghdad and not one person’s status update says “Baghdad” because not one white person died in that fire.

Pray for the world that blames a refugee crisis for a terrorist attack.

That does  not pause to differentiate between the attacker and a person running from the vey same thing you are.

Pray for the world in which people walking across countries for months, their only belongs on their backs, are told they have no place to go.

Say a prayer for Paris, by all means, but pray more, for the world that does not have a prayer for those that no longer have a home to defend.

For a world that is falling apart in all corners and not only in the towers and cafes we find so familiar.


13 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Paris”

    1. Paris was done by people who see the West using violence in Muslim countries every day. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t talk about their tendency to resort to violence when we’re the ones invading, occupying, droning and special-oping so many other countries.

      1. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

        ― Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love

      2. Muslim countries and Muslims through out the world have condemned the attracts as they have all other attacks. To use the argument that the attacks are in anyway justified in the manner and the reason in which you speak is to do a terrible in-service to the ordinary hard working Muslims in the same way the right wing nuts condemn all Muslims for these cowardly acts. These are NOT Muslims!! They are MONSTERS!!!!!

      3. Fine, as long as you understand that they are *returning* hate. I agree that their violence isn’t solving anything. But you have to acknowledge that they are reacting, not initiating. And if we’re going to talk about love and light solving things, that could come from us too, y’know.

      4. In answer to Fred’s question; Dienne. She rationalizes a reason that blames the western world for the attacks. Read her story CAREFULLY!! If you agree with her, I guess my argument is pointless, but I feel it is insulting to all Muslims. They are not filled with hate for the western world, but now they are ostracized. ISIS must be defeated so we can ALL live in peace. Are there maybe terrorists among the Syrian refugees? Very possibly. But 99.9% of these people are you and I, scared to death and desperate. What’s the answer? I wish I knew. But to treat all of them like they are terrorists or to say that they are all rightfully “angry” at the west does them SUCH a disservice!!! They are scared of ISIS and trying to run away TO the west!!!!!

      5. Where did I say anything about all Muslims? I’m just saying, what do you think some Americans would do if a foreign power were invading, occupying, drone bombing and/or special oping us and our allies? If you can’t understand how these attacks are a direct result of the Western occupation of so many Muslim countries, then you have an utter failure of empathy. And until the West learns to listen to what we’re being told, we’re going to keep getting “terrorist” attacks. (“Terrorist” is in quotes because we only seem to recognize it one way. If attacking a rock concert in Paris is terrorism, then so is blowing up a wedding party in Iraq or bombing a hospital in Afghanistan.)

  1. Who is afraid of us , every zealot, jihadist ,or Christian nut should be
    because we will destroy them. One profound and unmentioned
    fact of the Paris massacre were the targets .
    Western culture was attacked that night not western military or government
    instillation. They hit a concert, soccer game, and cafe, because that is what the
    murders fear the most. If I was one of them the thought of thousands of peaceful
    people enjoying the fruits of a modern and tolerant society would scare me more than all the bombs
    in our arsenal. Motown and metal music is more dangerous to their way of life than landmines.
    After all they could shoot at all the western soldiers, and a few Russians, any time they want in Syria.
    That is not what they were after. They came to install fear in our hearts .But fear not.We will change them first

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