The terrorist attacks took place in Paris on November 13 was a tragedy that shook the world. Multiple shootings and explosions hit the busiest area of the city on Friday night, causing more than one hundred deaths. President Hollande responded to the attacks by calling it an “act of war,” and ordered another round of air strikes in Syria.
The attacks have also triggered the anger and fear of people from all over the world. Many countries in the West, including the United States, have started to reconsider the admission of refugees, seeing them as a threat to national security while in fact they are victims of violence. Such negative responses will not heal the wounds in people’s hearts. Instead, they will exacerbate the misunderstandings.
Pope Francis’s description of the situation of refugees around the world is very thought-provoking. “’Where is your brother?’…. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death.”
The situation is indeed a sad one. It is hard for people to reject the fear in their hearts, especially after the tragedy in Paris. But not all hope is lost. When I saw the video of a French father reassuring his son that flowers are just as powerful as guns and will protect us, I found myself gathering up my courage again. Indeed, it is the flowers in our hands and in our hearts that will heal the wounds, and truly protect us from harm.
In fact, President Hollande, representing the people of France, has made a public statement after the attacks in Paris that France will remain open to refugees. “Our duty is to carry on with our lives,” he said.
As we express our condolences for those who lost their lives in Paris and the many others whose lives were taken by the conflict in Syria, we need to realize that shutting doors in the face of refugees who are seeking our help will not save them or save us. We need to cherish the lives of our brothers and sisters by welcoming them. After all, they are human beings just like us, and they deserve to live in a peaceful society and to live with dignity just as much as any one of us.
[[Picture Caption: A young boy leaves flowers in tribute to victims of Paris attacks outside the French Embassy in London. Photo by Thomson/Reuters]]
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.