The Paris Attacks – a love letter from ground zero
Greetings from Paris, home of Notre Dame Cathedral, the city of love.
Yes, dear reader, love.
But last Friday night I found myself trapped in a café/bar with seventy other conference attendees.
Tense and uncertain, we listened to the horrible news of killings just a few minutes walk away.
This was real!
One, two, three, four, and even more……………news of the repeated attacks just didn’t stop.
Some cried, some relived their trauma from the siege of Sarajevo, some wanted to run away, some stay glued to the news on their smartphones, some shared their batteries, some stood guard around the café, and some were ready to make good decisions for all.
Most importantly we took care of each other together.
We survived the night.
In the café we were part of a conference of six thousand AirBnB hosts from over a hundred countries.
We are all part of a very new business model.
We invite strangers into our homes every day.
It sounds crazy, but it works.
In the last month my family has had guests from Korea, China, New Zealand, Germany, the United States, Singapore and more.
We speak English and I try to speak their languages.
We come together from all over the world, and we turn strangers into friends.
After the attacks, just two days ago, I sat in silence in the Grand Mosque of Paris: so simple and so still!
A timeless place to rest.
I then walked past a bridge, groaning under the weight of locks both small and huge, completely covered from one end to the other, testifying to couples’ eternal love in this the City of Love.
That’s love, baby.
From there I walked just a few steps to the great imposing presence of Notre Dame Cathedral, implacable in the face of unknown danger.
So old, so many stories, so much faith in the face of never-ending change.
And thankyou France and the French language for the words ‘imposing’ and ‘implacable.
You have given English so much.
Is that not love?
Shrouded in a faint evening mist, closed and guarded by gun-toting soldiers, this old French church somehow moved me deeply.
I’m not ashamed, I’ll admit, I did cry a tear.
What is that, but love?
So I sit in a café opposite the cathedral, here in glorious Paris, writing this to you.
So can we find a common language of understanding amongst all nations and all tribes?
I believe Slow EnglishSM is some tiny part of the solution.
I believe we can all practise speaking slowly and simply enough, to be understood.
I believe we can all get better in our listening.
I believe even the English-speaking peoples of the world can learn this!
For me, this is my labour of love.