We should all learn to live together as brothers and sisters; otherwise, we'll die together as idiots.

“We should all learn to live together as brothers and sisters; otherwise, we’ll die together as idiots.”

This is how I describe the French.  Despite the events of Friday night they are out in the streets and cafes in force, somewhat subdued but present; there is time for drinks and laughter, hugs and solidarity, the force to say “Meme Pas Peur”, “I’m not even afraid”, a phrase kids say to bullies before they run around and do whatever it was the bully was trying to prevent them from doing.  It is more than appropriate.

When I drove into Paris today for a meeting, I hadn’t intended to visit Place de la Republique, but I found myself there thanks to my lunch date, Adrian Leeds, who called and said “Susan, you’ve got to get over here.”  I emerged from the metro onto a place that was thick with mourners who, in almost utter silence, stood around the statue of Marianne, a potent symbol of freedom.

"Meme Pas Peur" "Not Even Afraid"

“Meme Pas Peur” “Not Even Afraid” 

There, not even a year ago, we had stood  for Charlie Hebdo.  Then, the crowd was muscled with energy and outrage; today was solemn, sad, tender.  Mounds of flowers, potted plants, candles of every color, size, and perfume surrounded  Marianne; drawings painting, notes were stuck, balanced, inserted into the jumble.  The messages weren’t those of anger, but those of strength; the French are so good at thumbing their noses in the face of adversity.

International media coopted the place, their vans flanking the north side, journalists with cameras and microphones searching for the next best quote.  The presence of Christian Amanpour of CNN confirmed that La Place de la République was the center of the world, at least for today.

At Place de la Republique

At Place de la République

Le Petit Cambodge

Le Petit Cambodge


Marches, and other public gatherings have been officially suspended in France so I was surprised to see all the people. I was even more surprised to realize that we were all involved in a collective, silent march, one of the most respectful I have ever been part of. As people finished their prayers and their thoughts around Marianne they turned to walk towards nearby Casa Nostra to pay their respects, then on to Le Carillon, and Le Petit Cambodge.  It was shocking to see the bullet holes, touching to see the ocean of  flowers and plants, and more paintings, poems, drawings along with the omnipresent  “tricolore”, the French flag.  As we all walked, pulled forward not by voyeurism but by the desire to simply do something, not a word was uttered, not a shout heard. There were tears, sighs, sadness, and then the people moved on, courageous in their numbers.

As the  French do what they do so well, debate and unravel, here is a distillation of the message:

  1.  We must not confuse daesh with all of Islam.
  2. We must not confuse refugees and daesh
  3.  We must go on, in strength, with our lives.
  4. We must not say we are at War – only states can be at war, and daesh is not a state.
  5.  Anger is justified, hatred is not.
  6. Turn the energy of the anger to constructive thought, ideas, solutions
  7. Come together as one, united Europe to find solutions
  8. Show a united, not a divided front
  9. Do not be afraid; Meme Pas Peur
  10. Remember beauty; it will return


Kill 1, kill 100, kill 65 million, you will never kill the soul of France

“Kill 1, kill 100, kill 65 million, you will never kill the soul of France”

Tagged with →  
Share →

22 Responses to Resilient

  1. Dayle Wedeking says:

    Beautiful tributes all. A wonderful, strong populace will not be cowed by cowards.

  2. Bunnie Beardsley says:

    I was hoping to hear from you, thank you for sharing. You are right the French are resilient and a force to be reckoned with. They truly deserve our support in such a sad time, Vive la France.

  3. Colleen Yokoyama says:

    Beautiful… Such class, strength and heart! Thanks for sharing

  4. Cynthia says:

    Thank you, Susan, for thus life-affirming message,

  5. Thank you for the update. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of France today.

  6. Susan Baumgartel says:

    Hi Susan,
    Beautifully written! Armin and I send our love and unity to you and all the people of France.
    Love, Susan and Armin xoxo

  7. Eileen Doherty says:

    Susan – Thank you for sharing this. Such a sad time and such a beautiful uplifting message. “Kill 1, kill 100, kill 65 million, you will never kill the soul of France”. Makes us all want to come back there sooner rather than later. Until then, take good care. Eileen

  8. Chris Glass says:

    Thank you, Susan, for this simple yet particularly moving post. We need more of these! Thoughts and prayers to all who are trapped in and suffering from this vicious cycle of violence. May all good people work together to find a place for everyone to live in peace and enjoy the richness of life, family, friends and sharing the simple things, like a good meal!

  9. Riki Fritz says:

    Susan, thank you for bringing Paris a little closer to each of us who are so devastated by the recent tragedy in that beautiful city. I have faith in Paris and all who love it. As we learned in America, it just takes time, but the sun will shine again and smiles will return. Love is like that.

  10. Doris Bain Herrmann says:

    one of the bridges in Portland had red,white,blue lights immediately quelle tragique! Mom

  11. Barbara Wetzel says:

    Thank you ,Susan , for your photos and for the comments concerning fear, terrorism, bullies and the strength and resilience of the French people.

Leave a Reply