On Paris and processing tragedy


Light rain falls on memorial cards, flowers and candles in Paris on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Light rain falls on memorial cards, flowers and candles in Paris on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

I tried to write this column at one in the morning several days ago. Instead of writing I found myself watching videos about the recent Paris attacks.

I looked up coverage of the Paris attacks, and saw the faces of the victims. Saw the faces of the attackers, who looked oddly human. I couldn’t imagine that they were capable of such evil. I watched a horrific video of people dangling from windows of the Bataclan. I thought about the attackers’ mothers– did they know what they produced?

I was trying to come up with an analysis of the situation. Some kind of articulate statement about how violence has been going on in Syria for a long time, but Syrians die as numbers, not faces and stories, but I couldn’t appropriately articulate my thoughts. I tried to tie the attacks to gun control in the United States. I attempted to break down the issue, make sense of it, and form a concise opinion. This wasn’t working.

It was nearly two in the morning and I was still struggling to make sense of it all. I watched this video by a man whose wife died in the attacks. He said that he would not live in fear, he will go about his life teaching his son how to be kind. I watched another video where a father explained to his son how love is greater than hate, and that is why they were placing flowers on a memorial for the victims.

I battled with myself. I wondered if I would be on the same page as those fathers. Would I be capable of such kindness, or I would I want to personally strangle each gunman? Would I live my life without fear? Would I continue to go through each day normally because that’s what vehicles of hatred wouldn’t want me to do? Or would I live in a constant state of paranoia and caution?

Nothing was working. I couldn’t form an opinion. As it got later, I became sadder and angrier and my head became foggier. I didn’t know how to feel about the attacks on Paris other than sad for the city, the victims, and their families. I went to bed.

When I woke up I realized that it was okay not to have an articulate thought about the tragedy. The world is full of craziness that I can’t control. A resource center for the disabled was shot up, a man rampaged a Planned Parenthood clinic, twenty two people died at the hands of a gunmen in Mali, ISIS murdered people in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, Syrians are forced out of their homes, and Donald Trump could be our president. I’m not advocating apathy, or complacency, but sometimes it’s okay to not have organized, and poignant thoughts about straight up insanity.

With so much bad news it’s hard to keep a level head. It’s hard not to become cynical and cold hearted, and give up on the kindness of the world. I won’t ignore what’s happening, but I can’t let the news of evilness suffocate me at the age of seventeen. It is a waste of time to ask how people can be so evil, or what drives people to murder in the name of God, because I will never understand.

All I can control are my actions, so I will try my best to practice kindness every day, and to take each of those days in stride. I will continue to laugh at the weird ways of the world, and sing “Hello” by Adele in my car on the way home from school, and tell my family that I love them every night before bed.

I look out my window now and it is a beautiful day. The sun is shining. It is a crisp 50 degrees. My sister is in her room watching The Office. I have two rabbits named Cutie and Patootie. I have sweet friends, a loving family and I can still see the goodness in humanity everyday.