A Letter to France: Don’t Get Down, People

Yesterday, a couple of hours before going to bed, we were joking about how Friday, the 13th of November had been as uneventful as any other random day. Little did we know that in a few hours, while we would be safely asleep, Black Friday would live up to its name. 

Paris down. Beirut isn’t far away. It’s been about a day since the world warmed up to the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Closer home, this brings back memories of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, 26/11.

Since everybody is alert, I needn’t point out once again that the whole world is in solidarity with France. You’ve probably already seen pictures of landmarks across the world lit up in the Tricolore, the National Flag of France.

Yes, this was a failure. 26/11 was a failure of the security apparatus in India, and France has collectively, unfortunately, failed to defend itself. No doubt, lessons will be learnt, protocols improved, debates raged, and reforms made.

People have lost their loved ones, some of them were soul-mates. And all of them innocent civilians butchered for no fault of theirs. I can scarcely imagine what they’re going through.

And when President Hollande stands under the Eiffel Tower, darkened in solidarity with the victims of yesterday’s cowardly act, he, like everyone else, like every other French citizen and other people alike, shall feel an overwhelming impulse, an urge, to hit back. And as the captain of the ship, he should. France should, not only for its own sake, but also for the world.

Yet, if I may, in this sea of mourning, passion and blood rage, let me warn you. Terrorist attacks, be it in France, the USA, India, the UK, or any other country, is most often followed up by reforms. Not just any reforms, legislative reforms. With particular emphasis laid on the security apparatus of the country.

An impulsive mind is in uncontrolled mind. Please, lawmakers and the government, don’t be swayed so much by passion and rage while bringing up the new laws to address gaps in your country’s security apparatus. Laws that may, perhaps inadvertently, trample upon people’s civil liberties.

But then, you rightly should be. Your people, the people whom you represent, the people who you dedicated your life to as a politician, they are in mourning. They have lost their kin, and you too. If I were in your place, it would have been very, very difficult not to be swayed by passion and rage. But I would have at least tried. And I would have tried, hard. Please do so. 

I do not know what these terrorists want. And right now, for this purpose, it doesn’t matter.

But as someone has already said, if the aim of the terrorists (or whoever is behind them) is the erosion of democracy, they are being successful. 

Remember France, you taught the world what civil liberties, what human rights are. You waged a great revolution for that cause, in which you emerged victorious. Not only did you win it, the status quo has been left, almost unchanged, for the present. It changed the course of human history, forever.

France remains one of the firmest strongholds of democracy in the world, a guiding light. People of France, your country remains one of the only countries where civil liberties are still exercised without any (or very little) constitutional exceptions. You place civil liberties above everything else, religion included.

Stay true to that spirit, please. Yes, you need to buckle up. Please do so, in the interest of France, in the interest of Europe, in the interest of the world. At the same time, honourable people, balance the burning needs of the day with your identity, your spirit.

It’s not just me speaking. Look back on your own, rich history. France has always remained what it was, from the very beginning. Respecting people, helping people live a life of dignity with the freedom to make choices and always keep their head up, and at the same time, being deadly passionate, not only about defending oneself, but what France collectively stands for, as a country, and as an omnipotent soul.

Stay true to it. Stay true to your name.

Make yourself safer than you ever were before, but not at the cost of your conscience, your identity: which is, universal respect, and dignity.

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