13 November 2015, 22:12, over Atlanta
56 days ago, we boarded a flight to Paris. 56 days ago, 160 people were going about their daily lives, not knowing they had 56 days to live. Not knowing the horrors that awaited them on a simple night out, a soccer game, a night out to eat with their friends or lovers. Terrorism struck again, this time at a pace worse than everything else since World War II. In Paris, my favorite city on the world, shootings and bombings caused the beautiful French landscapes to be closed.
We are flying tonight. Coming home from a very short trip to Chicago, having only been the for one day. We are headed home. I overheard the news when we were waiting for our plane in Chicago. It started out as 14 dead. The number slowly climbed to 46, then 60. By the time we reached Atlanta, it was 160. They neutralized the terrorists. For now. For this one night. But what about tomorrow? When does it end? Does it ever end? Is this all in the Book of Allah, yet another “diety” who makes people kill in his name?
I say it like that, because what I read recently in a biography of Josephine Bonaparte makes me think about religion in general. Napoleon once said, “Society cannot exist without inequality of wealth and inequality of wealth cannot exist without religion,” and “Only the Church could make inequality seem natural and death in war seem less senseless.” He was talking about reinstating the Catholic Church after it had been abolished earlier. I can see his point.
Napoleon was ruthless. He was a short, overweight, and unattractive man, who somehow won over beautiful Josephine, and gained control of France. How? By being a ruthless and immature tyrant, hell-bent on gaining power so that he could overcome his shortcomings (literally and figuratively). By being a complete prick, honestly, someone who banished rivals to other countries, sent men to marry others to keep them away from Josephine (who had, at the very least, a wandering eye), and killed those who really got in his way. He was not a nice guy. What he said about religion probably never reached the populace, the normal, run-of-the-mill Frenchman who clamor end to be the first back at the church doors as soon as they opened, hoping for some reasoning, some salvation, some answers to the questions he had.
Today’s attacks make me so glad that I saw Paris before the attacks. I was able to enjoy the city, without fear. I never, not one time, felt in danger or threatened. Not on the Metro, not on the train to London, not in the airport, not in a little cafe around the corner.
We stayed about 10-15 blocks from the closest attack, based on a map I saw online. It pains me to wonder about our tour guide, Adam, who was French-Canadian, who had lived in Paris five years and was working on his doctorate. I hope he is okay. I hope the little Italian lady at the cafe is okay. I hope the guys at the front desk of our hotel are okay. I wonder about them all. I hope they are safe, at home, and not scared.
I am not declaring an all-out hatred for religion. I am simply stating that ANYONE who kills, maims, harms, threatens, belittles, guilts, or does anything bad in the “name of religion” or “in the name of X (insert god/preacher/evangelist/cult leader name here), they are merely playing into the hands of X, because only through X’s followers does X have, gain, or retain any power. So think about that, followers. Are you doing something for the good of the world, or are you doing it for the good of X?
My thoughts are with all the people of Paris tonight. It’s Saturday there. Friday the 13th still here, as I write this. One more time, the world breathes a heavy sigh, knowing that this fight against yet another tyrant is far from over.