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Paris Terror Attacks: Pulling Together When Our World Has Been Torn Apart
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A lot of innocent lives were lost in Paris on November 13. People were just living their lives - enjoying a concert, dining at a cafe, doing what we do. We’re all feeling a gamut of emotions, and rightfully so; the threat is real and the fear is justified.
While it didn’t happen here in Canada, it still affects us deeply. As Canadians we are, after all, part of the free world. So what are we supposed to do with all that anger, anxiety, despair, hopelessness, fearfulness and resentment? Should we hide in our homes, stop living our lives, and wait to see where the terrorists will strike next?
Crisis situations like this change us forever and have an effect on how we view the world. They make us fearful and dredge up past losses. The key is not letting the trauma own us. How do you do that? The human spirit is extremely resilient and we find our own ways to cope with adversity and heal from tragic experiences like this. There have already been a couple of poignant examples of this in Paris:
- Rather than cower inside and wait for what might come, many Parisians went back on the streets immediately to carry on with their lives. They dined at open-air cafes. In solidarity, they gathered at the tragic sites to light candles, leave flowers and mourn their losses. In a collective act of defiance, they refused to let the terrorists take their power and freedom from them.
- The man who played John Lennon’s Imagine on the piano outside the Bataclan theatre drove 400 miles through the night to pay tribute, and then pulled his grand piano into position behind his bicycle. He wanted to comfort people, inspire them with music, and offer a sign of hope – to people he didn’t know. Through all this sadness, we still have to make music, be positive, and never lose faith in humanity.
These grand gestures are admirable. Here are other ways you can cope with tragedy, become an active participant in your own healing, and help others get through it:
- While it’s important to be informed, you can choose when and where to get your information. It’s not necessary to watch the news 24/7, and watching it before bed time may not be the best idea.
- Never ignore your thoughts and feelings. Freely empathize with the victims and their families. Talk about it with others and listen while others tell you how they feel. This is a universal tragedy; we’re in it together. We all feel the pain and should express our feelings.
- Acknowledge the good in the world and the way people have come together to support each other at this tragic time. Cherish the good in your own life – your family and friends – and tell them how you feel.
Personal tragedies are devastating, but public events like this also incite grief. The loss is very real and painful. Only when you realize that all losses must be grieved, will you be able to move though and beyond the incredibly tragic circumstances like these.
When it comes to pulling together for the greater good, no one says it better than John Lennon in this excerpt from Imagine:
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one