Thoughts on the Paris Attacks

At church Sunday morning, a friend asked me if I would want to go to Paris now.  We changed the subject before I was able to answer, so I will answer here.

Do I want to go to Paris?  In a word, yes.  As I’ve said before, Paris is my favorite international city.  I will continue to visit whenever I can.

Alexander III Bridge in Front of the Grand Palais, Paris, France
Alexander III Bridge in Front of the
Grand Palais, Paris, France

Yet, when a city like Paris experiences a horrible terrorist attack, it makes me think.  The latest reports tell us that there were at least six different attacks in the city and over 120 people lost their lives.

When our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, many people reacted in anger.  They were angry at the terrorists or angry at the government for not providing enough security or maybe angry at God for allowing something like this to happen.  People have also reacted in anger about the assault on Paris.

The Eiffel Tower Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower
Paris, France

Other people react to terrorism with fear.  They especially become afraid to travel.  They do not want to go to the place where the terrorist attack happened.  The problem is that no matter where they go, they might have as much chance of experiencing terrorism as if they stayed home.

So, how should a person react when terrorists attack?   How can we avoid terrorism?

Obviously, we do not want to put ourselves in harm’s way so it is wise to stay away from countries that are experiencing civil unrest or war.  In a city like New York or Paris, however, an attack is not expected.

As a traveler, there isn’t much that you can do to avoid random terrorist attacks.  If you do happen to get caught in the middle of an attack, though, your reaction can be important.  Don’t panic, but listen to the authorities.  If you can safely leave the area, do so.  If you can help someone without endangering yourself, you should.

Right now, the people of Paris need our support.  We can give them our support by continuing to travel there.

The Louvre Paris, France
The Louvre
Paris, France

Traveling to Paris will help the city economically.  Many citizens of Paris rely on tourism for their income.  The hotel industry, restaurants and the famous sites cannot continue to operate without visitors to the city.

I know Paris is in mourning right now and I don’t want to intrude, but if I could go to support someone there, I would.  I don’t have any personal friends or relatives in Paris, so my emotional support may go unnoticed.

I can, however, support them with my prayers.  Prayers that the victims and their families will experience peace after this horrible tragedy.  Prayers that the hearts of terrorists around the world will be changed and the horrendous acts will cease.  Prayers that the leaders of the world will be able to determine the best course of action to deter these acts in the future.

Arc de Tripmphe, Paris, France
Arc de Tripmphe, Paris, France

One of the most important results of travel is that it promotes healthy relationships between the people from one country and another.  When I travel, I learn what is important to the people who live in the countries I visit.  I learn how we are different, but more importantly, I learn how we are alike.

It is important that we don’t allow fear and anger to get in the way of our relationships with other countries.  We need to support them with our prayers and our actions.  We need to continue to learn and grow by traveling.


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