This week, as a shadow of darkness hangs over our beloved Paris, we have struggled to find the right words to share with you. So we reached out to our amazing contributors and friends, who have helped produce this special issue of INSPIRELLE – a collection of inspiring voices which show that compassion can drive out hate and fear, that the light of humanity can fight the darkness of terror.
It began as a typical Friday evening. Our families were, fortunately, all safe at home watching a DVD or the France-Germany soccer match, one of our teenage kids studying for an exam. Then the media alerts started popping up on our iphones: multiple shootings, explosions outside the Stade de France, where the soccer match was taking place. Fussilade. Attentats à Paris. Again.
Immediately, we knew that our chief editor, who also works for a major American TV news network, was going to be off chasing the story. Text and social media messages began zinging between friends and family in Paris and from overseas to check if everyone we know was safe.
Some of our friends live near Bataclan, close enough to hear the gunshots from their apartments. Nearly every Parisian teenager or young adult has partied in that area. Le Petit Cambodge was a regular hangout for another friend, but not last Friday. While we are thankful that nobody in our immediate families or circle of friends were hurt, every one of us has been touched by the news of someone’s friend or relative, student or employee, who just barely escaped with their lives, or not.
Touching testimonies of shock, loss, compassion and courage are starting to emerge. Sean, the Eagles of Death Metal sound engineer who survived the concert hall attack by diving under a sound console. Julien, the young journalist who made a mad dash across the stage as the attackers reloaded their guns–but stopped to help hoist a wounded teenager out before bolting out the exit door himself. Sophie, who left the safety of her home near La Belle Equipe restaurant with her first aid kit in hand to help bandage the wounded. Ordinary citizens, young and old, who were just out living their normal lives.
We continue to mourn the lives lost and our hearts reach out to their loved ones as well as those still struggling for their lives. The question now is: how do we move on? If there’s one message resonating throughout Paris – the same message after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January – it’s that we will stand up to these acts of terrorism by continuing to carry on with our normal lives as much as we can.
Once again, we are seeing joggers in the park, children returning to school, people going back to work, dining at their local cafés and going out to museums and cinemas. Paris, the City of Light, defiantly shines.