ONE thing we have to get used to is more violence of Paris proportions. We've known this for decades, but it's only as we enter another phase of trauma over the attacks in Paris do we realise how close terrorism is to us all. We cannot escape it. It's part of our system now.
Notwithstanding the fear that intuits, there's a great deal of confusion and grief and bewilderment going around; an outpouring for the people of France, and a fresh torrent for Beirut and other regions, too.
Growing up in the 1980s there was a constant fear of nuclear war. The 90s brought us the HIVAIDS crisis. Since 9/11 it's been terrorism. We've always had something on a global stage to fear.
But grief is different.
Children watch the extended Media coverage and may not know how to unpack their reactions. They may not know how to unpack their parents' reactions. Then there's social media. Of course, there are the inevitable hero stories that restore our faith in the goodness of humanity to draw together in unified solidarity. Thank God for propaganda... truly: one good thing in our technologically advanced world.
Grief is the response we have, in this case, for the loss of our freedoms. Change is coming because of extremists' perversion of a life they don't deserve. But we'd be grossly selfish if that's all we lamented.
Seconds is all it took. A bomb blasts. Gunfire rings out around a packed arena. Bullets fly around a rock concert. The innocence of a pure moment is putrefied. The joy turns immediately to mass panic, to shock, later to anger, to numbness, to wailing, and to a myriad cycle of out of control grief. What was lost can never be regained. What's lost is gone forever. Lives have been derailed and they can only ever be rerailed on a completely different track. One life has ended without warning and a new normal of unanticipated and unending grief has begun.
Paris and the morning after seconds of madness. We lament the end of being human. A moment such as Paris had - many millions of fragments of the same moment in time - was birthed out of hell itself.
Oh for Paris we weep,
Our heart of hearts they mourn,
May God comfort those
Whose grief's so deep,
And give them hope at dawn.
Compassion has no words of condemnation in an outrageously awful time. It's a love that bears, hopes, believes and endures. For anyone affected, be it compassion that is availed to them.
What response to the Paris attacks is dignifying in the sight of God? It is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.
A part of Paris died on Friday the 13th, but God will resurrect her people and her land, and heal her hope. It'll take some time. But inevitably many will be made stronger for what they've been innocently and irrevocably called to endure.