It's been three days since the abhorrent attacks in Paris, France. It was a somewhat surreal experience, being continents away from the death and destruction, enjoying a celebratory occasion with friends at at a downtown bar. I was constantly refreshing the CNN app on my phone, attempting to get the latest information, sensations of sadness and disbelief permeating my being as I attempted to balance the joy of the immediate occasion with the despair felt at events unfolding across the Atlantic.
As with most things, once the immediacy of an event is over, the visceral turns to the contemplative. Just a few days after that horrific Friday the 13th, it is clearer to me that what France -- and all nations who value freedom -- must not do is conform to the world through the lens of the terrorists. Closing borders and asking for papers, please, is a knee-jerk reaction to a complex situation. They are understandable reactions, but should only be temporary.
A country whose raison d'etre is freedom should be careful not to allow dark forces to manipulate its very soul. Security at the expense of liberty, at the expense of humanity, is security not worth having. Indeed, it is these very trying times that test our mettle, when we must not take the quick, easy way out, and hold on to what makes us better than those who seek to hurt (and, yes, kill) us. It is easy to be a country of freedom and ideals when things are hunky dory. That takes absolutely no principle or fortitude whatsoever. It's when things are bad that we face the true test of who we are.
The mantra of 'Don't let the terrorists win!' in conjunction with closing borders, dropping bombs and fostering distrust of 'the other' is irony to the Nth degree. No, we who are supposed to carry the baton of freedom should not allow attacks upon us and our allies to go without answer, though the long-term tenets of our civilization should not be put in jeopardy because of it.
So, as the drums of war once again beat with fervor, we should allow ourselves a moment (or two, or three) to step back and see the bigger picture. That it is not always honoring the dead by creating more dead. That altering the fundamentals of free nations will not bring back those murdered in horrific fashion, nor will it necessarily make life better for the survivors. Standing once again at a precipice, let us not fall away from who we are.