This morning my husband woke me up telling me that there had been a “bit of trouble” in Paris, and we needed to immediately locate our son. Alessandro had arrived in Paris a few hours before the attacks, and we had no clue of his plans for the night. While I furiously tapped on the keyboard to ask everyone online on Facebook if they had any news, a chill kept running through my spine. This is not the first time we or a member of our family find ourselves in a place shaken by bloody events. When we quit Brazzaville on a pirogue, I remember my husband telling me that now we had experienced the difference between “objectified” and “subjectified” risk. We had run risks before, but the danger had never come so close to our lives and to our and our children’s safety. I also remember thinking that in the end it was our choice, to run such risks. At that time living and working in specific countries was dangerous, and we were considered a bit nuts to bring our children in such places. Today it is no longer so. Today our children can die in the centre of Paris, if they decide to go to a concert or to a restaurant for their Friday night. Which means that the world is certainly not changing for the better.
While I watched my son’s friends marking themselves safe on Facebook (and for the detractors: Facebook is a great tool in these cases!), and contacted them one by one to ask if they knew about Alessandro’s whereabouts, I thought of the huge difference the internet makes for expat families in this kind of events. In a matter of minutes, someone had marked Alessandro safe, and after a while my other son told me (always on FB) that he was talking to his brother who was safe and safely lodged.
At that point I obviously felt relieved and could relax, but like everybody else I can’t stop thinking of those brutally killed at Bataclan and the other venues under attack in Paris. My heart feels heavy, but not only for them. Madness and wrongs are everywhere in the world. Lots of wrongs are done daily to Palestinians, who are killed under silence, and to the innocent victims of the war in Syria. It is very hard to maintain lucidity in this kind of situations. Terror is no longer something beyond far away borders, it has become part of our daily lives. I am worried for my sons and for everybody’s sons. I feel ashamed that we are giving our children this bad world. And I don’t know what to do or think. I send all my love and sorrow to the families of the victims in Paris, and the only words that come to mind are those of Vittorio Arrigoni, who paid with his life the price of fighting for justice: stay human. Today more than ever.