Two Cities of Paris
Both cities of Paris were attacked this week.
I live in Beirut, historically revered as the “Paris of the East.” On Thursday, two I.S.I.S. (Da3sh) suicide bombers killed 43 persons, wounding 239, in a Shia Muslim neighborhood. On Friday, the second I.S.I.S. attack occurred in Paris, France, killing at least 129 people.
One of our friends, a French chef at a Beirut restaurant, shared that most of his staff is from the Bourj-el-Barajneh neighborhood that was bombed. After learning that his home city of Paris was attacked on Friday, he and his Lebanese friends were able to support one another in their mutual grief.
“The moment we stop living our lives is the moment we lose,” he said.
This is the remarkable trait that I am learning from the Lebanese.
Their years of civil war have grown within them a RESILIANCE—strength that preserves them from paralyzing fear, fuels a deep national pride and identity, and restrains them from division and hate.
Although there are sectarian clashes in certain pockets of the country, the Miracle of Lebanon is that a country this religiously diverse has not dissolved into schism. While our Parliament is weighted down by struggles to elect a President and resolve its garbage crisis, on Friday it was unified and unanimous in its condemnation of the Beirut attack.
What does it look like to “keep living our lives” under the threat of terror? Maybe it starts with the choice to hold to those basic human things that we all know—decency, hospitality, fairness—to our neighbor, whoever that may be.
Those basic human things are the same things that we are prone to sacrifice under fear. That is where strength comes in, to hold fast to the stuff of our best selves—to choose human decency when what we feel is threat.
I am honored to live among the people of Lebanon who perhaps do not live that perfectly—that is not human—but, they live it. I have a friend who, when asked his religion, said this:
“First, I am a human being; then I am Lebanese; then I am a Muslim.”
My heart and prayers this week are with the people of France, and the people of Lebanon, that through their sorrow they will find the strength to hold to their best selves and the things of basic goodness—those things which truly are the greatest threat to those who practice terrorism.