I have been watching BBC World News since I woke up this morning, and I’m pretty sure I will continue doing so until I go to sleep. The quote that serves as the title for this post was a soundbite is from JK Rowling’s character Albus Dumbledore, but I find it quite fitting to the Unity March that is now spreading from Place de la Republique to the other streets of Paris, until it reaches Place de la Nation. The images show me the huge sea of people, the countless flags from all over the world, the French President François Hollande and the 40+ world leaders and community leaders that have joined hiim and the French people on such an important moment, the family of victims of this 3-day horror story heading the march.
I had no words for this on Wednesday. In a way, I still don’t. There is nothing that can justify such barbaric acts. There is nothing that can justify killing someone because they don’t agree with one’s opinion or share one’s views. There is nothing that can justify killing another human being because they offended you. For this, I repeat: I have no words.
But for today’s march I do have words. It has filled me with words.
Hope. Unity. Tolerance. Liberty. Solidarity. Strength. Plurality.
To see so many people, with such different backgrounds, coming together to make their stand for what unites them (and us all) is moving, refreshing and uplifting. The future is uncertain and no one can guarantee that attacks like the ones in Paris won’t happen again – sadly, it’s highly possible that they might. But as long as people come together and make as many stands as they can – not just in marches, but also with small gestures in their daily lives – against fanaticism of any kind and against terrorism, then there is hope. There is hope that we can still shine a light and stand strong against those who insist in covering us with darkness, fear and desperation.
The attacks in France struck us all, regardless of our origin, skin colour, religion, political convictions, what have you. It struck all of those who hold freedom – and in particular, freedom of expression – and tolerance dear. The images coming from Paris right now show that there are no boundaries for our desire and commitment to these values.
Let there be no mistake: the old adagio says that the pen is mightier than the sword. Let’s make sure it will always be so.
Photo credit: AFP / Le Monde