champs-elysees

This is a film site, not a politics site. I have no intention of making it such. Nevertheless, I did not know where else to post this. I found myself gripped by anger while listening to news of the Paris attacks — more even than on 9/11, when shock and numbness ruled. But now, I am more sad and frustrated. 9/11 brought the US and the world together. These attacks have us at each other’s throats. 

Five days ago, terrorists ran amok through the streets of Paris, killing more than a hundred people in bomb and gun attacks. The siege is still on – reports of an hours-long firefight are flashing over the news wires. French President François Hollande wants an extended state of emergency that would possibly restrict some civil liberties for three months. Many Europeans agree.

I am scared. Everyone is scared. So we do what is natural for animals to do when they are frightened. We lash out – not at our enemies, but at each other.

For God’s sake, for man’s sake, for the sake of peace and righteousness, we need to stop.

What’s your primary fear? Islamic jihadists or Islamophobia? Not helping refugees or inadvertently helping terrorists? Protecting your homes or protecting your liberties? War or peace at any price? Or is it that you won’t get your way, that the world you want won’t happen because a group of convicted, murderous psychopaths are mucking up the works. So you yell at those with different fears.

Children. Yes, any parent will tell you that when children are scared, probably the worst response is to shout at them, to belittle their fears, to tell them they are flat-out wrong. It does nothing to assuage their fears – rather, because they feel no ally in their battle against what frightens them, it increases the fear. That’s what we are doing right now. Liberals are berating conservatives for their fear of attack within our borders and their abundance of caution at admitting thousands of Syrians into our cities – one of whom may have evil designs. Conservatives cannot understand liberals who zealously temper their criticism of Islam for fear of stoking ugly anti-Muslim reprisals, which are on the rise. Hawks disdain the doves for fear of the violent going unpunished, the doves rail against the hawks for fear of losing what fragile peace we have.

I have my opinions, and I have my fears, but your fears are also valid. They don’t have to be rational or data-driven. Fear is natural and fear keeps us alive. Stop and think about your fellow American’s fear – not in terms of what it will take away from you, but how it drives her. You know how it feels when she lashes out at your fear and tries to diminish it. She doesn’t have to be right. But I guarantee trying to crush and silence her fear will take much more effort and pain than listening and nodding in sympathy, even if you don’t agree. I know this from experience — I have children.

My youngest, who is a naturally fearful sort, asked me to stop talking about the news because it scared him. I did not tell him to get over it or to “man up.” I sat down on his bed and told him that I was scared, too. Courage, I said, is not the absence of fear. It’s resolve in the presence of overwhelming fear, and that we need to be courageous – now and always. How we choose to exercise that courage will differ from person to person. But I do know this – yelling, insulting, belittling, and trying to suppress the voices of your neighbors is not courageous. It only serves to increase their fears and expose your own.