A Bison Abroad | Paris

RIO BERGH | THE SPECTRUM A bridge full of love locks near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
RIO BERGH | THE SPECTRUM A bridge full of love locks near the Notre Dame Cathedral.

I find it hard to believe just a few short weeks ago I was in Paris.

I thought of nothing more than the beauty of the city, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the food and the light.

It feels unreal to look now at videos and live feeds of destruction, of terror and of sorrow. I am left not really knowing what to think, what to say and, now, what to write.

I have no insightful analysis, no words that can make anything better, but I offer you some rambling thoughts on this topic because at the moment I can think of little else.

I am struggling to accept that there are people in the world who can remove empathy from their lives, who can stop looking at other human beings as human. I find it hard to accept that there are people in the world who want to spread fear and hatred. I find it hard that innocent people are sacrificed to the hatred of a few. I find it hard that lives just like mine were unfairly ended.

I find it hard that innocent people can die, and that we often don’t hear about it, maybe because it happened in an area torn by war.

But whether the deaths dealt by terrorism are in Paris or Beirut or elsewhere, it doesn’t change that hatred is at the root.

I am afraid there will be an increase in unfounded fear of and hatred towards Muslims in response to this. A person’s religion does not make them dangerous, or in any way responsible for or related to what has happened; we are all still fellow human beings, and we need to remember that. Hatred isn’t the right response to hatred. Fear and hatred are the goal of extremism.

I really do not know what to think. But maybe it’s best to ignore the terrorists themselves and whatever they thought they were standing for in a supreme act of indecency and disregard for humanity. Maybe it is best to think of the ones who gave their own lives to help others, the ones who risked their lives to help, the ones who continue to give what they can to help in any way and the ones we have lost.

On some of the bridges of Paris, there are countless love locks, some with the railings so full that they look as if they are built out of the locks themselves. And each one is a testament to a promise, to a hope, to something beautiful. My memories of Paris are of a city of beauty, of light, of love, of hope.

Maybe while we cry for the past few days, we can hope for the future; we can put a lock on a bridge and throw away the key and we can love each other.

Rio Bergh is an NDSU student studying abroad in Europe. In his A Bison Abroad column, Rio gives his first-hand account of what it is like living in Europe as a student from Fargo. His column is published every Thursday.

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