Paris, France and the Fast Flick of Empathy

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      – Elie Wiesel, Writer and Political Activist

Leonhardt, Justine. “Luxembourg Garden”. 2011. JPEG.

To me, for many years, Paris has been an iconic city that really has no equal. I’ve come to feel an immense adoration for Barcelona and Melbourne and even my home of Vancouver, but Paris held the dreams of my youth, a city so akin to what I loved that I believed my name was French because I was supposed to be French. Luckily, in the years since, I’ve spent a lot of time in the city, walking all the way around Boulevard Périphérique and through the emptied Bois de Boulogne park in the middle of December; studying French while lounging around the basin at the Luxembourg Garden; traversing the arrondissements to locate the architecture of Hector Guimard and Le Corbusier; eating crepes and croque madames from street carts, and visiting the most lauded patisseries in the hopes of finding the best pastry item in the city. As a result, Paris is full of specificity for me, streets I walked at the break of dawn that I know intrinsically.

To a person who has never travelled to Paris or had any particular interest in France, the events of last Friday would likely be devastating enough on their own. The sight of bullet holes through glass and white sheets lined up along the pavement are images that we have become accustomed to seeing, but not in the systematic killing that occurred on November 13th in the French capital.

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