Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris & the World

     Yesterday morning at work, one of our clients was sending funds to family in France.  My co-worker was having difficulty and asked for a second set of eyes to look the work over.  At one point, the client called his family member to double check the information she had given him.  Back and forth in french over the phone line he explained what he needed.  I couldn't stop smiling and my co-worker noticed.  She asked if I could understood what was going on and if I could reply.  I told her that I understood and could reply a little, but unfortunately I was out of practice.  When he got off the phone, we had our answer and everything came out as expected.
     A year or so ago, I wrote about how much I love to hear languages in action.  It springs from my love of the french language.  I was very fortunate that I was able to start taking a foreign language in the 6th grade; they gave us three choices - spanish, french or german.  We probably should have all been strongly encouraged to choose spanish, because I could use that on a daily basis, but I picked what I hoped would be a romantic dream come true, seeing Paris one day.
     I loved french class, my french teacher and the way the words sounded in my mouth.  Mlle. Chalmbers gave us new names for class, but there was no appropriate translation for Heather, so she called me Gigi.  I loved her.  She praised my pronunciation.  I loved her more.  She told us a motto that she held dear, "If it is to be, it is up to me."  I embraced those words completely, eventually posting them over my desk throughout college.  By the time we got to senior year, there were only 5 of us left that had stuck with her and with the language.  The high school didn't want to offer it to us, but we agreed to sit in the back of the junior year class.  We read novels, talked to each other, studied (all in french, of course) - it was lovely.  By that point a Madame, Mme. Chalmbers, organized a trip to France that year, and from what I can recall, I think almost all of the juniors were able to raise the funds, as well as my compatriots, but it wasn't to be for me.  I held onto the dream instead, that one day I would go to Paris.
     This last year, I decided that our children were long overdue to start learning a language, and selfishly since we home school, I chose french.  I thought it would be good for me to be refreshed, and I could help them.  They enjoy it, but I get a bigger kick out of hearing them speak to each other when they're practicing.
     With yesterday's horrific terrorist attacks and the vitriol on the internet today blaming refugees, it's like the dream is dying.  129 dead, so far, in Paris and 41 dead with 200 wounded in suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday night from ISIS attacks.  We aren't quick to talk about Beirut though, both because the mainstream media didn't feed it to us and honestly, most Americans don't give a fuck.  I'm sorry if it's too harsh, but it's reality.  Let them, the others who live in that part of the world, blow each other up all they want, but spill blood at an American rock band's show and death to all those brownish skinned fuckers.
     That's what the terrorists want.  They want to scare us into staying home, giving up the legitimate fight.  They want to work on our base nature to alienate and persecute the other - all muslims are extremists and should be mistrusted, therefore we won't help refugees, won't look for common ground, won't care how many Palestinians die.  Syrian refugees fleeing death with their families with nothing more than the clothes on their back, housed temporarily in tents or makeshift what-evers, didn't drive black cars in front of multiple cafes with Kalashnikov rifles in clearly orchestrated attacks.  
     The terrorists don't want us to work on the root causes that keep them in business - poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity.  That's what causes religious extremism to take root and flourish.  If you have a good job, access to food and clean water, you or your children can read and write and participate in your community without impunity, when the bad guys come around to spew their propaganda, who's going to drop everything and take up with them.  On that beautiful bell curve of life that illustrates so much, there will always still be a couple at the far end of the spectrum who can be swayed, but the vast majority will ignore them.      
     I will continue to educate and care for all those who will listen to me.  But as I think of Paris today, for now, I feel like Morpheus's (aka King Nebuchadnezzar) words ring in my ear, "I have dreamed a dream but now that dream is gone from me."

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