Indulge me as I reminisce, combining world history with personal.
The year was 2015, and it was Friday. DS had just moved to Paris, France, to attend graduate school. With the help of a Parisian friend, we found him a small studio on an eighth-floor walkup, something a twenty-year-old can manage even if we wouldn’t want to. It was in a central and hipsterish arrondissement #2, on the right bank of the Seine River, next door to a lovely park and a famous patisserie.
I had a weekly skyping “date” with him, which he had set, every Friday at six in the evening, (for him) nine in the morning. (For me.)
We had just spoken, and all was well.
And then it wasn’t.
In a matter of a few hours, terrorist attacked Paris in various locations and when it was over, more than a hundred and thirty people were dead and a hundred more left in critical condition. Two of the attacks were very close to DS’s location, one only blocks away.
Our Parisian friend was able to call him and find him at home. He was not following the news, so she was his source of warning to stay put and not go out to a café or a stroll, something most young folks living where he was would consider a most natural thing on a pleasant night.
I was reminded of my growing up years in Israel, with traumatized American relatives calling every time Jerusalem managed to make the news. Often these relatives were the ones to let us know what had happened before we knew.
I’d be tempted to say that Paris changed forever, but it’s my understanding that it hasn’t. Like Israel, or New York City after 9/11, the city rebounded, and thus the terrorists lost.
And something else came back to my consciousness. It takes very few people making bad choices to wreak havoc, and very many people making good choices to fix it.
When storytellers construct stories, we usually weigh the protagonists and antagonists evenly, at least numerically. My limited experience in real life reveals otherwise.
Which means we, the many, must work harder if we are to make up for destructive impulses of humankind.