Terror Ethos Redux

Terror attack, multiple locations, death tolls plus countless injured.  In a major city life becomes disrupted, travel comes to a halt.  Locals desperately seek contact yet fear the news of their loved ones.  Many visitors to the area (tourists, students, business people, musicians on tour) are unaccounted for.

Family members run to the locations of the attacks, holding photographs, has anyone seen this person?

Hospitals, overwhelmed with patients from the incidents, are overrun with nervous, fearful, stressed visitors seeking their relatives, friends, lovers, associates.

Country and city leaders make statements to the press.  The media repeats these and other clips over and over. Responsibility is claimed by a known terrorist organization. Patterns and background unfold.

A city is gripped with fear, sadness and a chilling sense of uncertainty.  Emotions are fervent, tensions and an inability to feel settled or centered becomes the norm.  Levels of frenzy and fear persist.

This is the new reality.

Nearby cities express support.  Sports teams drop every shred of rivalry to convey solidarity. Social media abounds with messages of concern.  Everywhere one goes it is the terror attacks, their immediate aftermath and the larger discussion of what it means becomes Topic One.

This is Paris now.

So was it in New York, also in Washington and Pennsylvania, from September 11th  on.  In the early days there was fear, anger, all manner of concern.  For weeks, then months and the year that followed there was reaction, then acclimation to the reality and adjustment to life under these new circumstances.

Loved ones lost.  Dreams, plans, intent and routine - all gone.  Changed by acts of violence committed on innocents at random, those victims of fate at the carefully selected venues of terror.  And next came the vast exponential impact on personal lives, business, commerce and the economy.     

A friend described how he’d been somewhat numbed, unable to process the emotional impact of the events.  Then, walking to work one day, he saw a newspaper front page picture of the Twin Towers and the headline, “Wish You Were Here.”  To his surprise, and thereafter his relief, he burst into tears couldn’t stop crying as he walked to work.  Uncontrollably bawling, walking on the sidewalks of city streets.  After September 11th scenes like this were not uncommon.  A city, a metropolitan area, consumed with grief.  Space given, a mutual sense of why and an acknowledgment of grief shared yet individual by virtue of individual relationships.  

This is Paris now.

After September 11th we received email and phone calls from friends in England, Scotland, Israel, Germany, Colombia and across the country and Canada.  Inquiries as to our well-being and expressions of care and concern came from all over.  For months the energies and mind space of New Yorkers were deeply rooted in the events of that day and the rest of 2001, 2002, and to some degree, even now.  The passage of time softens some of the wounds.  But the core of the pain remains.  Our city was attacked.  Our friends and fellow New Yorkers and visitors to the area all bear the memory and varying amounts of loss and sadness. The somber mood became the ethos of the metropolitan area.  

That will be Paris now, as well.

Terrorism arrives in France. Paris and its metropolitan area are forever touched by these acts.  Emotions about refugees will go into high gear.  France has seen an influx of refugees from Middle Eastern countries.  With that has come divisiveness, anger, and a rise in hate crimes.  These are crimes committed by hate groups of all kind.  Earlier this year in March Islamic jihadists stormed Charlie Hebdo and the Paris Kosher Market.  All this year synagogues throughout France have been the target of firebombs, graffiti, and violent attacks.  French schools banned hijabs, headscarves, burkas in the name of maintaining public places devoid of religious symbols.  Bigotry and hate increases.  Cries for peace and unity battle for attention.

France has declared three days of mourning.  Concerts and sporting events are cancelled.  The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are closed.  The Paris that was a tourist, culture and social Mecca has gone into hibernation.  Terrorism, attacks twice in one year, takes its toll on the mood and manner of the city and the country.

This is Paris now.