Planned this weekend to write a catch up blog post - the usual kind of thing about what I've been doing, reading etc. Can't bring myself to do it after waking up yesterday to the news of the horrific terrorist attack in Paris. All my petty concerns about workload and the messy kitchen brought into perspective.
When we were in New York at half term, we went to the 9/11 memorial. The names of all the people killed are etched on the memorial: ordinary people who went to work that morning and never came home. I wonder what Ann Walsh McGovern, one of the victims whose name I noticed, would be doing now, if those who carried out the attack had remembered their humanity. What was going through the terrorists' heads as the plane approached the tower? Any regrets, thoughts of family or twinges of conscience? Or do they really believe they will be rewarded in the afterlife for their carnage?
What happened in Paris is Europe's 9/11. A normal Friday night in the city. Young people enjoying a concert. Or at the football. Others enjoying a meal in a restaurant, as we did on our visit to the city in September. Shot in cold blood. Indiscriminately. Randomly. Families and future plans shattered in an instant. And for what? What do the terrorists and those who control them want? How can we stop these things happening?
I grew up with terrorism. Many people in Northern Ireland and in England lost their lives; many of them were innocent civilians. The violence on both sides was unacceptable. But at least there was a 'reason' (not quite the word, but you know what I mean) behind it and leaders you could talk to and attempt to negotiate with. Through peace talks, the violence in Northern has ended.
How can world leaders respond to this attack? More air strikes? That's hardly going to solve the problem when there seems to be an unending supply of young men prepared to blow themselves up to combat the evils of the west. Like young people who go out to enjoy themselves on a Friday night.
There'll be a memorial in Paris, just like the one in New York. We'll visit it and feel sad and sorry for those who have lost their lives. And secretly, and guiltily, glad it wasn't us, as it so easily could have been.