Humanity and hope in times of terror

A city I hold closely to my heart and visit every year. A city of light, strength and love.

To say I was heartbroken to hear of the acts of terror committed against Paris and the Parisian people, is an understatement.

Many of us associate Paris with beauty, history, culture, cheese, refined elegance, wine, poodles, baguettes, romance, opulence, excitement and LOVE.

So how can we begin to comprehend that such a beautiful and westernised population and site could be the target of an attack as orchestrated and horrendous as what we have witnessed on Friday the 13th November?

Living in a world where premeditated and specific attacks such as these can be committed on an internationally iconic city, for the international audience to see, it is easy to lose hope. This was not an attack on a city or country we in the western world know little about, this was an attack on our front doorstep.

In a world filled with so much darkness, so much devastation, so much pain, fear and confusion…..how do we find the light and the hope we need to move forward?

Isobel Bowdery has bravely and compassionately written her account as a survivor of the attack in such a heartbreaking and also beautiful way. As a survivor of the Bataclan Concert shootings, her story is one of disbelief, devastation, pain, and terror, but it is also one of appreciation, light and strength to go on.

Isobel Bowdery

“you never think it will happen to you. It was just a friday night at a rock show. the atmosphere was so happy and everyone was dancing and smiling. and then when the men came through the front entrance and began the shooting, we naively believed it was all part of the show. It wasn’t just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right infront of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken. in an instant. Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless.. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry – not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn’t. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I – to have a fun friday night were innocent. This world is cruel. And acts like this are suppose to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticulously aimed at shot people around the standing area i was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn’t feel real. i expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare. But being a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst i whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy i loved was dead, to the injured man who i had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so i wouldn’t have to wear this blood stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support – you make me believe this world has the potential to be better. to never let this happen again. but most of this is to the 80 people who were murdered inside that venue, who weren’t as lucky, who didn’t get to wake up today and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through. I am so sorry. There’s nothing that will fix the pain. I feel priviledged to be there for their last breaths. And truly believing that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As i lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. over and over again. reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those i love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. to not let those men win. Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. to live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten”

Our thoughts and our love are with the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones in Paris, Beirut, Syria and beyond, and to those who do not have a voice or are subjected to the daily oppression of living under the Islamic State’s rule.

Isobel’s touching account sheds light on the way to move forward from this devastation…..with compassion and love for humanity.

Hate fuels hate, but loving kindness generates hope….generates connection and community….generates strength and light.

Alyce Mayman, Counsellor and Psychotherapist

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