The moment I heard about the attacks, I felt cold, and I haven't warmed up since. My sixteen-year- old son spent a day in Paris a few weeks ago.
"Mom, if it makes you feel better, we weren't anywhere near the eleventh arrondissement."
I feel no better knowing that he was nowhere near the site of the attacks. But I'm not going to change my life, and if I were invited to Paris tomorrow, I'd go.
During a moment of silence at a local school for the victims of the Paris attacks, a ten-year-old boy yelled, "Allah is greater!"
He's supposedly not a bad kid and allegedly not much of a student. He's a kid who gets into trouble and who needs support. Police arrived. Questioning took place. Piles of paperwork needed to be filled out.
These are the kids who get approached by terrorist networks. These are the kids whose vulnerability to promises of a paradise filled with gorgeous virgins makes them down cocaine or psychoactive pills that release inhibition and increase aggression--firing a gun becomes easy.
A boy who doesn't do well in school? A girl whose classmates make fun of her? A brilliant teenager who's unsure about "everything?"
What could feel more reassuring than absolute certainty, unity in hatred?
But how to find these children and help them to know that life with all its oddities, its disappointments, its bad jokes, is the thing worth having?
I have my mantras for these times:
(1) Keep them talking
(2) Being full of fear, and making decisions because of fear, will get you nothing.
(3) The worst returns to laughter. Watch out for a humorless person.
(4) Be brave, and never lose hope.
Paris is for those who love her--Paris deserves her friends. Paris is not for those who want to incinerate her for her secular palaces. Paris deserves all of our support today.