I’ve only lived in Paris for three years, so my statement that, “this is the worst summer here that I can remember” doesn’t have the same importance as a friend of mine (who is a born-and-raised Parisian) saying, as he did recently, “I don’t remember when times have been so bad here.”
We have had endless rain, silly strikes, murders, and fights breaking out at the Euros. But I cannot help but look at all these things as first world, and passing, problems. The larger context that makes it more painful for the ever pensive is the memory of 2015, which featured three terrorist attacks on French soil. The French are still feeling fragile from this, and fairly enough, so are the tourists.
So, why should you come to Paris? If I could spend an hour speaking to you to convince you I would, but since I can’t, I’ll confine myself to three short points.
It’s still the most beautiful city in the world. Yes, we may recently have had to evacuate part of the Louvre and close the RER C that runs by the river, but most of us who stood agape on the banks of the Seine were simply surprised at just how much rain it took to make the river rise so high. If anything, the rain has simply made our monuments, churches and streets a bit cleaner and our gardens that much greener.
Terrorism is not something confined to France. As the news continues to tell us everyday, there are people who wish to inflict pain and suffering on those who do not share their values or vision of the world. The US, England, Spain, Belgium, and now France are perhaps the countries that have gotten the most attention, but the whole world is now permanently under threat and no single government or coalition can truly deliver “safety” as it was once known. Which leads me to my final point.
Apart from avoiding very risky activities, there is not much you can do to avoid an untimely demise, if that is what is meant to be. Clearly this isn’t the place to get into a long philosophical debate about the after life and eternity and whether they exist, though it would be very French for us to get into such a debate! And yet, it is still very French to soldier on, as well.
Perhaps the greatest victory of terrorism is the prevention of people from living their normal lives. People are fearful. And one should acknowledge that fear is understandable. But then we should also note that fear is often that element that holds us back from great growth and experience in our lives, so all it ends up being is an excuse. So, don’t be afraid to visit Paris, because we aren’t afraid to live here. We take it, even with all its challenges as of late, because it’s a marvelous place to be.