In Memoriam

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We cannot, and should not, ignore what happened in Paris on 13 November and in Beirut the day before. It is in our nature to strive to make sense of what we experience, even when we know instinctively that the experience itself makes no sense. But before we allow ourselves to be consumed by our sense of outrage and injustice, we should give a thought to the bigger picture. While these atrocities were planned and executed by a small number of individuals, think of the millions of others throughout the world who give of their time, their skill and their material wealth day after day to help others, to give others better lives and better prospects – to give them comfort and bring them hope. I’m talking of doctors and nurses, teachers and aid-workers, engineers and scientists, and the list goes on. Can the few criminals who wreaked such destruction in Paris and Beirut over the past week possibly deserve more attention, more recognition, than the millions of selfless people who toil unheralded, out of the limelight and away from the cameras, for the betterment of Mankind?

We must mourn those whose lives have been taken so brutally and callously; we must care for the injured and comfort those who have lost family and friends in these despicable attacks; we must reflect on what has happened and do more to reduce the likelihood of it happening again; but we must not allow the aggressors to paint the whole world as an evil place for that is their world, not ours.

The young woman who fell from the sky

In the early hours of January 25th, 1920, while most of the city slept, I was walking along a narrow, cobbled street in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris on my way to the boulangerie where I was serving my apprenticeship when I heard a loud thud behind me and, startled, turned to see a body lying on the ground that I had just crossed not more than a few seconds before. With some trepidation, I ran back and found that it was a young woman.

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