Our summer school holidays came fleetingly this year, feeling more like a long weekend rather than a six-week break. I felt cheated of lazy, hot summer days with nothing to do. It could have been due to the dreary weather that stole away the anticipation of summer or our busy schedule with visitors, but I believe it was partly due to hearing news of terrorism happening here in Europe, like an air of gloom hanging over me in a dark, eerie night.
This year we went to the beautiful beach areas of Normandy and Brittany, France. On France’s national Bastille Day, July 14, we first went to visit the US war cemetery in Omaha Beach, Normandy. This memorial is remarkable and a must-see for anyone living in a free democratic society. We were moved by the history and valor of the allied forces who bravely fought for our freedom. Words cannot describe my feelings of gratitude.
In the evening we went to the charming seaside town of Port-en-Bessin-Huppain to watch the fireworks. I was feeling touched by the fact that we got to learn about the liberation of Europe from the Nazis and celebrate France’s independence on the same day. Little did we know that a horrific terrorist attack was taking place in Nice in the south of France. I only found out the next morning when concerned family and friends texted me to check if we were okay.
A few days later, a 17-year-old refugee wielding an axe rampaged through a train in Germany seriously injuring people. A week later, another 17-year-old boy in Munich opened fire on kids at a McDonald’s killing nine people, then another bombing, and the murder of a priest during a church service in Normandy, France.
This is not the story nor is this the topic I want to write about, but I feel compelled to do so.
Although these events happened far from where we were, they hit me at home right where my heart is. I kept thinking it could have been us. I can hear my mother’s words, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I mourn for the victims’ families as if they were my own.
What is really happening globally? Why do I feel like there are bad vibrations spreading like wildfire?
I see strife in political arenas around the world. First, there is the unprecedented Brexit based on the immigration issues in England. Then a failed coup in Turkey with unresolved issues still pending. The Middle East is a never- ending disaster. And to stir the pot, the US presidential race is getting nastier every day. It is hard to stomach grown, supposedly intelligent people who want to be world leaders and decision makers say mean, ugly things about each other. The hate is palpable: it’s very scary and despicable.
As an American expatriate I feel affected by political strife and terrorism happening on both sides of the pond.
As I mourn for all the victim’s families, I wonder how this can be stopped? How do I react and what can I do?
This might sound trite, but I think prayer is part of the answer. But is it effective? To be honest, I don’t really know. Sometimes I wonder if my prayers are in vain because nothing seems to change. I don’t even know what to say in my prayers because I feel numb with the magnitude of senseless killings, but I pray anyway.
I am seeking not revenge but understanding. I don’t want to build walls. I live in a country where there was once a wall. I don’t want bitterness to erode my heart. I don’t want to be angry with a particular group of people. I don’t want to live in fear, as some politicians would like me to believe that I should.
I am asking for acceptance of differences in all aspects of culture, lifestyle, and religious belief.
But how would a family recover or move on if they were affected by a terrorist attack? Nidhi Chaphekar, an air stewardess from India, is a survivor of the Brussels airport bombing that killed 35 people and injured more than 300. I saw a photo of her taken during the aftermath of the bombing where she is sitting on a bench looking dazed and confused. On August 5, 2016 she gave an interview to BBC news reporter Divya Arya in Mumbai.
Chaphekar said, “We have to live. We have to go on. Life has to move. Go for good. If you can do something better for someone, I think you gain something…..I think, we have to do.”
It is the same sentiment I’ve heard from other survivors of terrorist attacks. They never talk about hating the perpetrators of crime but focus on love in general. Love for the family, love for your neighbor, love to make the world go round.
It’s strange, but the people who are not directly involved in attacks are the ones who scream for vengeance, but seldom do the victims themselves want to avenge any wrongdoing. They seem so shocked by the atrocity that they want to put their energy on the opposite of hate, which is love and tolerance.
As a life coach, I want to focus more on what ties us together as humans than disparity that divides.
So maybe we should heed their advice and move on and put more effort into doing good deeds for others. So it seems that in order to get over a tragedy, the best way is to put attention on helping others, finding love and compassion for yourself, your family, and for others in your community.
Over To You
What are your thoughts about this topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Please leave a comment below.