Sunday, November 15, 2015

Shocking

Last Friday evening was our last night on vacation. As usual I was watching a bit of Belgian tv on my iPad once Kabouter was in bed. In modern times being on vacation doesn't mean to be disconnected anymore if you don't want to be, but choosing selectively what you want to keep up to date with while ignoring all the rest.

While already half asleep on the coach trying to make it until the end of my program, I got some breaking news messages about a shooting in Paris with 2 people killed.  In all honesty I didn't pay much attention right away.  A potential rancunous ex-partner getting revenge at his ex and new boyfriend in a pub is surely very tragic for all involved but not truly something that concerns my life.

But some more incoming messages mentioning  multiple shootings and a rising number of victims, catch more of my attention. Right at that moment Jan had also noticed something was going on and we both started surfing simultaneously. My twitter feed fils with 20-30-60 victims, explosions, a huge ongoing hostage...My stomac turned.  This was big. This was horrible.

Jan had turned on our tv and flipped through the breaking news editions while we finally paused on the French news emissions.  I had flashbacks to the "America under attack" banners under CNN on 9/11, to news on the Beslan hostage, ... I read tweets of victims in Bataclan hiding and begging for a police intervention, of Parisians with scared people hiding on their staircase in the dark, ...

More than the metro & train attacks in London & Madrid by Al Quada where the attacks were over in fact by the time the news got out, this shocked and scared me.  More than attacks on Charlie Hebdo  journalists as this attack targeted anybody, this shocked and scared me .
 (I know this is hypocrite: the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack are just as tragic and horrendous and no society should ever allow someone to get killed for expressing opinions, no matter what opinion.  That attack hit directly the values of our society, but the victims were targeted so specifically that most random people still seemed safe). 
This was horror that could happen to any of us while we were minding our own business. Similarly we could have been on the bombed plane on our return from a vacation from Egypt or on our way on a fantastic diving trip in Asia and getting shot down because you happened to fly over a war zone. But these people in Paris didn't suffer from a quick sudden death either, that wasn't granted to them. They were in hiding, listening to the screams of other victims. Their torturers wanted them to be in fear, they want all of us to be in fear.

We saw live how president Hollande declared the state of emergency and close the borders. I wanted to stop watching the news, stop refreshing twitter, but couldn't.   I sneaked to Kabouter's bed to listen to his sleeping breath as antidote.

I had a difficult time to fall asleep that night, wondering what was still ongoing on in Paris, praying the death toll wouldn't rise further ...what was going on in our society?...what would tomorrow bring for Kabouter and the child kicking in my womb? They had not chosen to come in this world. I felt fear too. Of course my fear was not urgent, while being in my big bed in a nice vacation resort where I had spent the past 10 days splashing in the pool and eating myself an indigestion at the restaurant buffet.
I guess I could imagine better a slight fraction of what so many mothers have to endure in war zones, not certain whether they'd return alive from doing groceries, not certain whether their children would grow old.  Many of them were fleeing towards Europe where they were now seen with ever more suspicion as the "Trojan horse", while they are fleeing from the horror that we now encountered as well. They are victims , we are not victims from them.
I worried about the political action that would happen, or would not happen. I worried about failed integration of past generations of immigrants, with so many knocking on our borders.  I worried about religion abuse and rising intolerance.

Of course reality had not truly changed that evening of 13/11. The reality of extremists among us plotting evil plans and attempting to execute them is not new. It's a reality we have to learn to live with and deal with (not accept!).  The reality of ideologies , societies, politics and cultures clashing in opposing interests is not new.  But the perception of our safe reality with the war being far in the Middle East had been shattered again.

We'd be afraid for a while and slowly our we'd be back to our daily routines until the next illusion would shatter. If I think of it, I had already lived up to some of our fears. While planning this vacation we couldn't book our favourite hotel and were appalled by the prices in the region when searching for alternatives. At one point we had looked at a vacation in Sharm El Sheikh where we'd be able to stay in a nice hotel for a very very good deal. But I had decided against it, because I knew IS was active in the Sinaii. I didn't truly think we'd not be safe there although I did think there is a chance that some extremist some day would try to act there at some square or hotel entrance once (without expecting something as big as a bombed plane). So I guess the extremists won in that case already.

I listened carefully to the breathing of Kabouter in his little bed and felt with my hand my big moving baby belly.  I tried to sleep until our little boy jumped up the next morning with a happy "Goed geslapen, boekje leze, mama boekje leze"  (slept well, read book, mommy read book). I was happy he's still oblivious to the big issues in this world.

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