In my Chronicle newspaper column last week I wrote about the immediate aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, and how the world had united in support of the people affected, indeed of France as a whole. There has followed an uneasy period of disquiet as we have heard reports of police attempting and, at time of writing, failing to apprehend one of the group responsible who may or may not be on the run in Belgium. Brussels is on high alert and the US has issued a worldwide travel alert to its citizens, warning of the potential for imminent attacks in ‘multiple areas’.
In fact, it’s probably best if you just don’t leave the house at all.
But then that would be letting the terrorists win. So instead, what I’ve seen lots of this last week has been people just getting on with their lives. Yes, we appreciate the potential dangers of suicide bombers around every corner, but if we let the fear take over, there’s no need for them to blow themselves up. Their work is already done.
So I’ve seen people announcing pregnancies, sharing if it’s a girl or boy, posting about their children’s milestones and achievements, celebrating what’s good in the world. And while we could live in fear, families are preparing for Christmas, buying presents, seeing friends. The alternative is not an option.
I’ve seen several people discussing online about how to explain the attacks to their children – my preference would be for them to not know about it at all. I understand it must be more difficult with older children who may have seen news reports or heard people talking about it, but I see no reason to terrify little ones with the horrors of the world if it can possibly be helped.
You may have seen the heart-wrenching footage of a French father and his young son being interviewed by a reporter at one of the sites in Paris where floral tributes were being laid for the victims. Clearly scared of the ‘bad guys’, the little boy asks his dad if they have to move to get away from them, to which the father reassures him that the flowers and candles are there to protect them. The acceptance of this as fact by the child is wonderful to see – if only it were true and so simple.
What we can do is protect our children’s innocence for as long as possible. Let them see the beauty of flowers and candles. Let them enjoy life. Let’s all enjoy life.