I know I am not alone when I looked on in horror at what happened in Paris on Friday, 13 November. The violence was as extreme as it was obscene and all in the name of a perverted view of a faith-based belief system. Others, so much more eloquent than I, have written, spoken about, and analysed what happened. As I was listening to witnesses, especially those in the concert venue, Bataclan, where many heard shooting but thought it to be fireworks, I could imagine that some listeners may have thought, ‘why didn’t you run away?’ I have an idea why. They had no experience of this kind of thing. They had no context with which to compare it. Hence the lack of immediate action one should take when faced with this kind of threat – that of running away. The same thing at the Stade de France when the bomber suicided. ‘We thought it was a firework…’ As I listened further I thought, ‘there but for the grace of God, (whoever he or she is), go I.’
The fallout from this, on the parents, brothers, sisters, relations, and friends of those who were lost and those who witnessed indescribable horror, can only be imagined. The latter are the ‘living wounded’ who will take the pictures in their mind to their grave. There will be guilt at surviving, guilt at wishing the murderers, for that is what they were, were elsewhere and that it was somebody else being killed. ‘Just not me…’ They may have come face to face with an element of themselves that they never knew existed. To some this may be difficult to forget. There will also be the anger of those who were not there but are bearing witness to the damage of those who were.
The work now begins. Survivors, wounded by blast or bullet, those ‘wounded’ by their experience, and those ‘wounded’ by seeing the hurt inflicted on loved ones, will need time, our patience and our support. They have a right to this. It is a human right. Those that inflicted this on their fellow human beings, well, where can one start? One day they will pay in one form or another. Violence always has a cost…
‘Never leave anyone behind…’