I could not keep my eyes off the screen of my laptop, turned on the french BFMTV News channel, since the terrible events that happened this evening in Berlin and Ankara.
This situation of me, sitting in front of a screen, raising my hand on my forehead, mouth shut but eyes and ears wide opened trying to absorbe as much information as I can, attempting to understand… keeps repeating itself since January 2015.
In those circumstances, I breathe very quietly, as if it became secondary to what was happenning on the images I was witnessing. The feeling of being enclosed starts to raise, there is a lump on my throat and, as hard as the images can be, I cannot do anything but having my eyes wide open for hours, collecting information, fearing to miss something going on on social media.
I do not have words to even begin to describe the images I saw on the media, seconds, hours and days after each one of the terrorist attacks. I must say that after a week or so, things start becoming “normal” and those images are not diffused as often anymore as they’re not on the front line of information. However, as soon as something similar happens, those same images are difused again as reminders, waking up those same feelings I have described before. It’s like a self-defense mode mixed with the desire to know every detail.
Fortunately, I witnessed the actual attacks behind my screen, but I also experienced firsthand the social ambiance they left in Paris the days after. Actually, I am extremely attached to the French République values I have been taught at school: freedom, equality and fraternity. Without forgetting commitment, unity and freedom of expression, that pushed me to be part of the french student population that stood stronger than ever and remained together facing the attacks to our most fundamental values.
Even if there certainly were many thwarted attacks, it’s hard not to mention that those terrifying events need to happen so that action can be taken. As a matter of fact, following today’s attack in Berlin, security measures around the Christmas markets and public religious events will be further strengthened in France. Clearly, none can guarantee the safety of all in public places without impeding our right of free movement, specially on holidays where there are waves of people shopping and hanging out outside. There is no “zero risk” but, well, we need to live as free and careful as we possibly can.
Ironically, this evening I was Christmas shopping in the main avenues of the center of Madrid, as I imagine people in Berlin, Brussels, London or Paris were doing as well. I feel like I’m an European citizen over all (from my cultural background) which is somehow breaking down into pieces as well.
Let’s go back to the point. Sometimes we don’t realize how blessed we are to actually have ‘normal’ days where nothing happens for us excepted a work day or going out shopping bits and pieces for our loved ones. Meanwhile, other people not so far away are not lucky enough to even have a home to stay or money to spend.
As the ending word, I would like to share my solidarity and compassion for all victims of attacks against civilians using violence for political strategy and terror purposes. As we usually do in France, stick together more than ever around pacific values and make your voice count.
When you’re reading these last words, your life still goes on at the moment and that’s something to be very grateful for.