Paris: The City of Love and of War?
Ever since I first stepped foot in the Paris it stole my heart. I have always loved and admired the way this city and its people place such an emphasis on fine tuning the ascetics of life. I know what you are thinking “but isn’t that all the French care about?” And you know what I really don’t think so but even so does it really matter? Because when you eat here it is not just a meal it’s an edible artistic experience. When you walk the streets here you are in awe of the city’s immaculate presentation and the inspiration around every corner. When you shop here you find things you have never seen or maybe only dreamed of. The magic of the city is undeniable. In fact, the list of master creators that have been inspired by life in Paris reads like a best of all-time list – the same people every high schooler learns about in Humanities class.
On this visit the streets were covered with a stifling amount of people who congregated around the French capital for very different reasons. First, you had the chic members of the high fashion world clad in all black and rarely seen with a smile. Second, you had soccer fans bursting with pride and gripping onto the hope of a Euro Cup 2016 victory. As fascinating as the stark contrast between these two groups was, the limelight was stolen by a third group – the military.
The military presence itself felt stifling. They traveled in packs of three or more and with their finger never too far away from their loaded automatic weapons. They were on street corners, every large public gathering and even on trains in the metro. Seeing the city of love living in fear and ripe for aggressive military actions was a hard pill to swallow. That said, the recent threats and the magnitude of the events being hosted by the city at this time seemed to justify the military presence.
Since I had visited several cities that have been recently been affected by acts of terror, I had a very tangible view of how terrorism is shaping the current political and cultural landscape in Europe. It’s sad that in a time when we need to work together many people’s reaction is to shun others that don’t believe, look or act like them.
French poet Victor Hugo once said “toleration is the best religion”. Now, more than ever we need to keep that at the forefront of daily lives. If we let fear control us, then the battle is already lost.