My dad was in the Paris airport about three hours before the attack. From there he left for China, eerily on time. When I finally processed and acknowledged the horror in France, however, I shivered. I was afraid of my own continent, of my own Europe, of the place I call home. For the first time in my life, I saw a line being crossed, a rope splitting down the middle, accumulated tension blowing up in fire and smoke.
As Lucia Annunziata provocatively explained in her Huffington Post article, Europe has become the “most dangerous place in the West.” But what at first may seem to be simple statement of rejection and discrimination towards a harmless continent actually hides a more complex picture. Annunziata’s analysis of Europe creates a continent that is rotting from the inner nucleus, where no evil creeps from the outside. Yet, it develops from the core, and as a hungry worm, it slowly and greedily devours the fruit’s pulp.
Indeed, she stated: “We can all close our doors, hide in our houses … but those who attack us are already here. They are men and women with legal passports to our country, men and women who grew up here, or who gained access by blending in with thousands of victims, immigrants fleeing the terrorist violence that has gripped their own homelands.”
But if they’re among us, and by saying “us” I mean us Europeans, what’s the point of hiding? As Annunziata reported, France closed its borders shortly after the massive attack that disconcerted the majority of rational and civilized people. If evil in Europe grows from the inside, however, closing the frontiers will only prevent external tumults from affecting the already critical situation that characterizes France, and many other countries, throughout the continent.
Hence, a doubt haunts me. If we hide and cocoon ourselves in our homes, hoping that this will eventually end, we will give terrorists an opportunity to pursue their goal of taking control of Western culture and society from the inside. Terrorists want to create chaos and disorder to the extent that our whole system will collapse and adapt to their sort of dictatorship.
On the other hand, if we leave our barriers down and don’t enhance the security of our frontiers or immigration policies, it will be like waving them in, practically granting free entrance, as well as portraying a foolish “I am not afraid” kind of attitude. In such a controversial and open debate, where no path seems to be the right one to follow, what is to be done?
Discerned with a less critical or political eye but with a more psychological insight, terrorists have to be given back the lives they are trying to take away from us. By “our lives,” I mean our everyday routine: our weekends with friends spent with beer and cigarettes at the pub or endless walks in the park when winter is approaching, with leaves swinging poetically down in slow-motion.
It may seem hypocritical, for when attacks like this abruptly happen, the first thing that we think of is seeking safety, sending prayers to the sky and mourning the people that lost their lives in a blink of an eye. But with the despicable people who are trying to tear down our society by abrading its very foundation, there’s nothing better or more satisfying than keeping that foundation upright, fearless and strong against every sort of disturbance. In this case, there’s no more powerful weapon than living our lives regardless of the pain, sorrow and rage that terrorism is causing, for showing fear and acting on anger would only mean providing them with our self-destruction.
There’s no way we can change the past, and as Annunziata wisely predicted, we’re already on the edge of World War III. As citizens, as people and as a united soul that speaks the language of reason, the only thing that we can do is prevent the future from worsening and trying to maintain the present reality as much as possible. This doesn’t mean that we have to pretend nothing happened — we do have to acknowledge it. The victims have the right to be mourned, but we have the right and need to stand up, wipe away our tears and enjoy what terrorists are trying to steal from us — our lives.