I hesitated a lot before publishing this short text. Does it belong here? On Facebook? Somewhere else? Nowhere? I still don’t know, but I feel like I need to get these words out, and here I can do it in a form that won’t be problematic; it won’t be misquoted, shortened or butchered to serve any political view. Feel free to share it, but if you do please share all of it. This text has been written in English by myself, and may therefore have mistakes, and then translated into French. It’s also been proofread in its English version by Siddharth Madhusudan.
Today is a day where I feel at once both sad and ashamed. Sad for my country, that has lost so many and so much; and ashamed of my country, of the reactions of “normal” people on Facebook and Twitter, but also of the politicians. How can one start using these events almost immediately to ask the government to resign, or see them as a proof that we should have closed the borders? Speaking of which, I am not completely happy about the adopted measures. This is why I offer you here my own thoughts, the message that I would have liked to hear. No ulterior motives, no political views; just a few words of hope and kindness.
People of France, today we are united, gathered together by a common feeling. Fear, of course. Sadness. And anger. I need not tell you what happened; you know as much as I do. But I want to tell you this : those who did this were not religious; they were not Muslims, Syrians, French, or who knows what; they were not soldiers; they were not martyrs. They are criminals. This is not an act of war, for a war is when an army, a State, fights another army, another State. This is a crime, which we will answer in the way you should answer a crime : with justice.
They want to terrorise us, they want to frighten us. But we are the country of freedom, of liberty, of human rights. We are the country that means Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. No single person, no paramilitary organisation will make us fall. And because we are a State, we have rights, and we have obligations. Among these obligations is justice, justice for each and every person, for victims as well as criminals. We will not shoot terrorists in the streets, because we are not terrorists, we are not murderers. We will bring terrorists to justice, give them fair trials, because that is how justice works.
And we will not close our borders, nor turn a frightened eye on our neighbours; we will not turn down those who are fleeing terror to come to our country. For we are united, we are brothers. And that means we have to welcome each and every one of those who ask for help. Of course there will be risks. Life is full of them. Should we take that risk, knowing that dozens of lives can be taken so quickly?
I strongly believe so. Because turning down thousands to save dozens is immoral, and a choice that I refuse to make; and if any here are willing to sacrifice some of their liberty to obtain a little safety, then as Franklin said, you do not deserve either one.
They want us to be afraid, they want us to shrink in terror in our homes; the only way we can fight this is by opening ourselves to others, by welcoming each other, comforting each other, by living our lives.
Therefore I ask you to live your lives, not as if nothing happened, because we cannot and do not want to erase these tragic events, but to live knowing that this simple act is an act of resistance to terror. To terror and death, we must oppose kindness, warmth, justice and life.