#prayforparis; An Artist's Symbol For Peace


  You cannot have escaped the news this weekend of the terror attacks on Paris and other parts of the world like Beirut and Baghdad. I spent most of Friday stuck in traffic on the M25 and when I logged into my Facebook tucked up safe and warm in bed at midnight I was confused to see the hundreds of posts from my friends sending their love to Paris. When I checked into BBC News and read the updates of the awful events that took place on Friday November 13th I was shocked and saddened to my core that yet again, innocent people have suffered at the hands of a group of extremists.

Terrorism, extremism, attacks are all words we are used to hearing in the news every day at the moment. I don't even have to name a particular group and you will all know who I am writing about. We now live in a culture where, after 9:11, we almost accept there will be bombings. We accept there will be air strikes. We accept that planes will be taken out of the sky. These attacks are what we have come to expect when we talk about terrorism. We know there are people fighting around the world. Armies, soldiers, all fighting extremists and terror. They fight to keep us safe and we expect to lose some of them. That is after a peril of the job and we honour their sacrifice for our freedom on veterans days and anniversaries.

We do not however, accept attacks on normal people, young people, just going about their daily lives, enjoying their normal Friday night routine. I think what shocked the entire world about the attacks in France on Friday was the normality of the situation. Any of us could have been at a concert that night in any city. Any of us could have been enjoying a meal, a drink, a coffee in any bar or restaurant around the world. It literally could have been any of us. 129 lives were lost and hundreds were injured and countless more have been traumatised by what they witnessed and how they survived and these innocent people played no part in wars, in terror or in extremism. They were just enjoying a night out.

It is important to remember as well that these groups of extremist individuals are just that. Individuals. Together they make up a group. A minority. A minority that represent nobody, represent no religion, simply represent their own ideologies and their own beliefs. In the West we have grown up in a culture that is diverse, that accepts and embraces new cultures, new ways of life, that doesn't generalise or assume and let us not start now.

In the midst of the horror and the grief the whole world felt watching the news unfold on Friday night, a symbol for peace and love was born and shared over every social media platform, millions of times. Jean Jullien's image of the Eiffel Tower peace symbol became an icon for France, Europe and the world to express the hurt they were feeling wordlessly. This symbol, along with the illuminations at every landmark speak volumes for resilience,for love, for peace, for an end to conflict, for an end to extremism, for inclusion, for equality, for life and for living. It is amazing what art can do, for what it can see.

It is in times like these that terrorists and terrible acts do not push us apart and divide us, but in fact bring us together as one nation, one world, one community and make us more committed to living a full life, for hugging those closest to us a little harder at night, for telling people we love them, for remembering life is too short for hatred and grudges and war. Acts like that happened in Paris and around the world on Friday November 13th have exactly the opposite affect on human beings than intended by the criminals that commit them.

I read on Instagram a quote which I think sums up everything every human being touched by this story is thinking, and so, I leave it with you.


"France embodies everything religious zealots everywhere hate: enjoyment of life here on earth in a myriad of ways. A fragrant cup of coffee and buttery croissant in the morning. Beautiful women in short dresses smiling freely on the street. The smell of warm bread, a bottle of wine shared with friends, a dab of perfume, children playing in the Luxembourg Gardens. The right not to believe in any god, not to worry about calories, to flirt and smoke and enjoy sex outside of marriage. To take vacations, to read any book you want, to go to school for free, to play, to laugh, to argue, to make fun of prelates and politicians alike, to leave worrying about the afterlife to the dead. No country does life on earth better than the French."