Over the past 36 hours, the world has been changed.
I wasn't very old when 9/11 happened, 7/7 sticks in my mind...in 10 years will 11/13 be just as iconic?
On Friday, I was feeling rubbish, I went to bed around the time all the news was breaking around the world that Paris was suffering. It took me till Saturday before I heard the full extent of the tragedy. And like most, I was on Facebook looking for news links and seeing that my friends were ok.
By Saturday lunchtime #PrayforParis was everywhere - you couldn't find a social platform that wasn't supporting them - but then it became clear it wasn't just Paris suffering. Our world is huge - I once had to calculate how much it weighed in Physics (it's a lot but I digress) - there was tragedy happening everywhere, Lebanon, Baghdad, even an earthquake in Japan.
It was clear that 11/13 had been a terrible day all over the globe.
In the evening, Facebook did what it does best... social campaigns. The blue, white and red was translucently placed over every profile picture on my news feed. Then the posts reminding everyone that it wasn't just Paris started to ramp up.
And I had been silent until then - so I started thinking about what I wanted to say.
At four minutes to eleven pm this is what I wrote:
"Tonight I am not putting the French flag over my profile picture - I am changing it to a picture of our beautiful planet Earth because I'm not just praying for Paris, I'm praying for everyone who suffers at the hands of the evil that unfortunately lies out there.
This is not a moment to launch a campaign of hatred against one group, or remember one group over another in our prayers or thoughts. This is a time when we must join together and help heal wounds, not deepen them.
Bad things happen daily, and not one is worse than another, but as humanity we are strong and we will triumph over the bad like we always do.
To everyone hurting out there, I'm thinking of you and send my deepest condolences. And to those who want to do something in reaction - spread love, not hate."
And I wrote this to remind everyone that terrible things happen every day on Earth. It doesn't matter if it is a Western city or a small town in the East.
The world has been in my thoughts for the past 48 hours. Not just Paris.
Also I am not going to play the blame game. That is not going to help. We do not need another "Night of Broken Glass". We need to bring the world together and heal.
To those who want revenge - there is law for that. I am sure that the governments of the world are working on it. Whatever opinion you have on the strength of the laws, mob mentality won't help those who have perished.
One of my favourite plays is A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. In it Eddie doesn't believe in the justice of the law and his choice of vengeance over legal justice leaves him the worst state of all. Alfieri, the lawyer describes that trusting in justice to prevail instead of killing to avenge as "settling for half" and that he "like(s) it better" - and I do to.
The people we have lost will not gain anything by us turning on each other now. In fact, us fracturing makes the divides big enough so that the people who want to break us can do so easier.
And humanity is amazingly strong. We have tackled ice ages and predators to reach the top of the food chain Unfortunately, there is bad amongst us that we cannot control. But we will get through this like we always have.
I reeled off a few dates at the start as examples of this. Nobody stopped getting on planes after 9/11, Londoners went back on the tube after 7/7, and I am sure people will eat at restaurants, carry on living their lives and watch football in stadiums long after the events of this Friday have passed.
And if you, like me, want to act then there are a few things we can do to make a difference:
- Spread love and calm in the face of panic and pain. Be the force of good in your community and within you social sphere
- Remember everyone's pain and don't isolate one group over another. If you are praying or thinking for anyone; do it for everyone
- Muslims don't feel like you have to apologise for anything, you are not to blame here. If a woman kills her husband, I don't have to apologise for being a woman. And people looking to blame someone - blame the individuals who can take someone's life in cold blood, don't tar everyone with the same brush just because you can
I wanted to be succinct so I will stop here.
So this is me signing off, knowing that humanity is beautiful and we are strong, and sending my deepest condolences to anyone who has lost anyone. And I hope with these words someone will find comfort and strength to do good in the face of this world which seems very bad and scary right now.
Lots of love,