In Response to the Paris Attacks

I’ve been watching the emerging story of the attacks in Paris, watching as more information is released.  Watching as the death count rises.  While I don’t believe this kind of coordinated attack is unprecedented (history is full of horrible things), I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like it in my (albeit short) lifetime.  Every story is terrible, but the worst, for me at least, is the story coming out of the Bataclan concert hall, which was attacked by a series of shooters.  The death toll at that location alone is over a hundred.

Last week, I spent a while talking with several local students and another exchange student about a variety of topics, mostly history and politics.  We also discussed The Walking Dead, and someone mentioned that everyone in America seems to own a gun.  I told them that wasn’t really true, but that guns were much more common than they appeared to be in Britain.  Then I tried to explain to them about the culture of fear built up around mass shootings, how every school has a plan, how I’ve had casual discussions with fellow students about what we should do if we encounter an active shooter during a show we’re stage managing.  They were slightly confused.  Here, in England, that’s not really a concern.  And that’s a wonderful thing.

My knowledge of French culture is very limited, but I don’t think mass shootings, especially on this scale, would have been a concern for them either.  Until tonight.

Tonight, a series of coordinated attacks taught the people of Paris fear.  They should have been fine.  They should have been safe.  This sort of situation just doesn’t happen in peaceful countries, or at least it didn’t until tonight.  Tonight, Paris was rocked with bombs and heavily armed shooters.  The country closed its borders.  Every time I check the news the death toll has risen.  And there’s still a chance for further violence.

Fear is an exhausting emotion.  Maybe what I hate most about this whole situation is that these people, whoever they are, have taught an entire city, an entire country, fear.

I’m sure as the days continue we’ll hear more stories from the attacks.  We’ll watch as what happens and what has happened shapes France’s future, maybe even our futures.  The only hope I find is that almost as soon as I heard about the attacks I also heard that Parisians were opening up their spare rooms and couches to those left stranded by them.  There are still good people out there.  There always are.  And I’ll be praying for them, and the rest of Paris, as they mourn and try to find ways to recover.

A Brief Update

One weird thing about being in England is the amount of free time I have.  I’m used to going to class five days a week and rehearsal six.  Here, I only have class three days a week and rehearsal one or two.  So, I’m trying to find ways to fill all that extra time.  I’ve joined several clubs (two theatre related, one writing related, it’s fairly obvious my passions are specific), watched more movies than I think I’ve watched in the past year, and read lots of new books.

It’s lovely to have time to read.  I’m used to mostly reading just required texts over the school year, with maybe an occasional fun book thrown in, usually the next book in a series I love or the newest book by an author I admire.  Here, with all the extra time, I’ve been able to read more randomly, picking a book from someone’s recommended list or something mentioned by Amazon’s algorithm.  I also joined Goodreads, which people have been suggesting I do for a while.  My dad always told me I should keep a list of all the books I’ve read, and now I have an electronic version of one (or the start of the list anyway.)  And it works as another recommendation algorithm.  I’ve had to start reading on a Kindle, since books are not the most portable of objects, and while it’s nice to be able to immediately buy and start the next book in a series, I sometimes miss pages.

Funnily enough, this week is reading week, when we have no class so we can catch up on any schoolwork or required reading we haven’t done, or (in my case) work ahead.  I’ve spent the weekend reading a wonderful series I found (through Goodreads).  Tomorrow I’m going with a friend to Stratford.  Maybe after that, I’ll find some new books and read some more.  Really, what I should be doing with all my extra free time is laundry.