Being away from your family, friends, and loved ones is never easy. It’s especially difficult if you live in a country with a culture that’s vastly different from your own. Add to that a major tragedy back home in your own country, and all of a sudden, the sense of loneliness and isolation can become quite overwhelming.
The recent terror attacks in Paris shocked the world, but proved once again that the French, especially Parisians have an indomitable spirit, and won’t be intimidated so quickly. The old motto: “fluctuat nec mergitur” (It is beaten by waves, but does not sink) holds as true today as the day it was conceived, and their sense of Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité shone through the darkness after the fateful attack on Friday November 13th, 2015.
Even here in Japan, people got together and organised a community, regardless of race, colour, nationality, or religious conviction to remember the fateful events in Paris, and have a moment of silence for those affected.
Here in Nagoya (which doesn’t have a very large foreign – let alone French- population), a small group of French Nationals gathered in front of the TV Tower (which was modelled after the Eifel Tower) on Sunday morning to give support, and hold a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks. I’m sure similar events were held all over Japan…
“There just aren’t any words. I cried after checking the news yesterday morning”
said Alexandra from St. Germain en Laye, who organised the event in Nagoya.
“Even though none of my family or friends were affected directly, but you still feel connected to the situation on a very deep emotional level”.
Several other people from various areas of France, including Paris, Lyon, and Northern France had similar feelings:
“I was worried about friends and family”.
“I know some people who were near the area and heard the shots going off”.
“I’ve been to that Restaurant a few times… I just can’t believe this happened there”.
“How can anybody do this; I just can’t understand”
Being there, under the TV Tower together with them really highlighted one, prevailing fact for me. As they stood there, together, welcoming anybody who wanted to join their circle, I myself realised: No matter your colour, nationality, or religion, when it comes to pure humanity in the face of tragedy, we are all one, and must stand together as one against those who hide like cowards, and strike from the shadows.
We must not forget, however, that while France is in the Spotlight right now (and this short article is about French people gathering together to remember, grieve, and lend support), that there were related incidents in Beirut (at least 43 Dead and 250 Injured), Baghdad, and Nigeria.
It is absolutely imperative that we put aside our prejudices and stand together in the face of adversity.
As the old Japanese saying goes 継続は力なり (Perseverance is Power).