In my early 20s I spent a month travelling around Europe. I visited dozens of places, but my favourite was Nice in the South of France, and I spent hours sitting in cafes on the Promenade des Anglais where last night’s atrocity happened.
Those peaceful memories of a tree lined avenue by the sea have been shattered, but at least for me they are just distant memories. For the poor people involved yesterday the pain is real and present. Seriously, how do you cope with such heartache?
We’re not talking soldiers who had gone to war knowing they faced imminent danger. These were men and women of all ages, mothers and fathers, grandparents, and - most sad of all - young children, who went there to watch fireworks and have a fun time.
As I write this people are referring to it as a ‘terrorist attack’, but nobody knows for sure. In the days ahead I am sure the true story will emerge.
What we do know is that this was an incomprehensible event that we wouldn’t wish upon on anyone. At least I wouldn’t have thought any decent person would. Who knows what drove the person who carried out this terrible thing to do what they did? Maybe we will never know.
It sure puts everything into perspective doesn’t it?
Those troublesome work problems.
Those marketing campaigns that don’t go quite as we’d hoped.
That online service that isn’t working quite right.
That big sale that falls through.
These things are just not important. They all pale into insignificance when something like this happens.
If this was a terrorist attack then the aim of the terrorist was to terrorise us. Their aim was to make us live in fear and to turn us against each other.
Maybe it is about time everyone in the world did exactly the opposite. Instead of turning against each other, maybe we should turn toward each other and realise that we are all human beings, and no matter what nationality or religion we might be we are, fundamentally, the same, with just a handful of superficial differences.
I’m sure there will be people reading this who passionately disagree with what I’ve just said - and I know just where you’re coming from as I have often felt the same way - but maybe it is time for a change.
Alas, I don’t know how that change should come about - I wish I did - but in the meantime I want to focus my attention on the suffering of the people who were in Nice last night and their families. This is not a time for hatred, but a time for compassion.