By Amy Schulman || Opinion & Editorial Editor
Friday night, tragedy struck Paris.
A New York Times update on my phone notified me that hoards of people were being murdered by several suicide bombers and gunmen throughout multiple locations in the city. Having spent a semester in the French capital last spring, the reality that the city I had called home for five months was being overtaken by violence was horrifying. It seemed almost too unbelievable to be true. I quickly sent my host family an email detailing my hope that they were safe, and that I was thinking of them. I woke up the next morning to a note from them, letting me know they were okay and attempting to process the previous night’s events.
I stepped off the plane in Paris last January only a couple of days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The city, deep in mourning, persisted onward in a gathering of more than two million people in a manifestation, demonstrating both respect for those who had lost their lives and portraying the notion that the French capital would persevere. And they did.
The city came together in a unifying act of love for their country, setting up memorials and ceremonies to commemorate those who had lost their lives. The statue, representative of the republic, became decked in posters, flowers, and candles, a symbol of the strength of the country.
The same thing happened this weekend. The whole world bowed its head in solidarity. A pianist wheeled his piano in front of Le Bataclan and played John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The same happened in front of the Washington Square Park Arch in New York City. Skyscrapers across the world flashed the French colors of blue, white and red. Communities gathered together and sang La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France.
Twitter and Facebook erupted in #prayforparis hashtags. Snapchat created a Pray for Paris My Story, allowing users across the world to submit personal notes and stories in light of what had happened in Paris. Heartbreaking moments of tragedy bring the world together.
How can we find peace in this unjust world? This question is too loaded to warrant a single, one-line answer. For now, I look back to my formative years of schooling where we exercised the Quaker practice of holding people in the light. Holding someone in the light helps lift that person to a higher spirit that in turn unites us all, encouraging and uplifting strength and hope. I urge you to hold in the light those that perished as well as the families of the innocent lives that were shed, hoping that one day, we will live in a world where this is not the norm.
Nous sommes tous français.