It’s Friday again

20 Nov

It’s Friday again.

This time last week I was, I think, enjoying a pint with my colleagues and looking forward to two weeks off work during which I would prepare for Christmas.

I met with a friend for dinner that evening and, coming home in a happy mood, informed my husband I was probably going to get an early night. Not long after making that statement, he came down and, silently, handed me his iPad, which was open on the BBC news app. Paris was, once again, under attack.

Nearly five hours later, I turned off the rolling TV coverage and went to bed with over a hundred people who had been enjoying an evening not unlike my own now dead.

I have seen, read and heard expressions of fear and pain, but also great bravery and solidarity, both from people I don’t know and from people I do.

But I have also seen, read and heard some of the most stupid, backward and opportunistic comments, both from people I don’t know and from people I thought I did.

I feel that everything and nothing has changed in the past week. The sun has still risen in the east and set in the west, the sun stars and moon continue to shine, the Daily Mail has continued to be a disgrace, and I have been preparing, little by little, for Christmas. But solidarity has soured into one-upmanship, compassion has turned into suspicion and fear, and the question of “what next?” hangs thick in the air. For my own part, I sit wondering if some of my most important relationships have been irrevocably changed.

What I have puzzled together from this fog is that we stand at a fork in the road. To the left is the wide, straight road built on hatred, mistrust and fear – the road easily travelled but which ultimately leads to ruin. To the right is the long, difficult and rough road of reconciliation and togetherness that is pockmarked with attempts to tear us apart, such as those that took place on Friday and, as I type, are now underway in Mali.

I don’t know which way we, as a society, are going to go. I hope that we reject the easy option, that we refuse to let the hatred shown by these attackers, these mad ideologues, get the better of our most base instincts. In many ways, I’m hopeful for the better outcome, because the alternative is that so many of the most hateful people around win.

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