Reflections on Paris

After this week’s attacks in Paris, several things have crossed my mind. Though it is difficult to sort out any of this in a meaningful and rational way, it is important to try.

First of all, one of the attacks (Rue de Charonne) occurred in the 11th arrondisement not six blocks from where I stayed for my IB training less than a month ago. The area near the Bastille was my home for my four nights in Paris, and the proximity is unnerving on a personal level.

On a transpersonal level, it is obvious that the Syrian debacle (which is just another outgrowth of Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya/Yemen/etc., and has unleashed a flood of refugees into Europe), is out of control, and that inaction is just as disastrous as action. It gives a pacifist pause to realize that someone needs to stop these people, and that turning the other cheek is not going to work in this situation.

Living in Vienna, where many refugees have passed through or stopped to live, this is not just another abstract conflict happening far away overseas. On the other hand, even though I am a little closer to the source than my American compatriots, my daily life is consumed with a demanding job that takes up much of my time, even my free time, which goes to grading and preparing for future lessons. Even as a socially conscious person, I feel like the rigors of daily life preclude me from direct action in any meaningful way. Imagine if I had children to take care of also! My point is that overall, professional people in the developed world have very little energy left over to give to social causes, and therefore the responsibility for action/inaction shifts to military and governmental agencies. After this latest wave of attacks in France, it’s a certainty that a military escalation is coming in the near future. Sadly, I can’t fault the military for wanting to strike back.

Right now, Europe is caught between its own pseudo-liberal stance on human rights and the overwhelming burden that the refugees place on their economies. Superficially, Europe likes to think it’s progressive and will accept all refugees. Economically and demographically, this is obviously impossible for many reasons. But these attacks in France will have the inevitable consequence of tightening borders, which will bounce the refugee burden back to countries like Sweden, Germany and Austria, who are already struggling to cope with the refugees they’ve already accepted.

And the US? Will they join France in “destroying” the terrorist movement they inadvertently helped to create? Seeing how the US answer to everything is military intervention, I would think so. Which means we’re in for another cycle of violence and retribution, attack and revenge. A sad prognosis, but letting these attacks go unpunished is not a viable option, either.

Bastille

The Bastille – neighborhood where one of the attacks took place.

 

 

 

Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna

Back in Vienna after my first holiday break. An IB music training in Paris, followed by a quick trip to Amsterdam. In Paris, I was lucky enough to see the Moulin Rouge, as well as the Louvre, both of which I missed when I was in Paris for 9 days back in 2002.

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Amsterdam was wonderful. There is a float center there, and I floated twice – something I hadn’t done in years! For anyone who has never floated in an isolation tank, there is nothing quite like it. I highly recommend it.
Explored the city mostly on bicycle, and then spent two hours on line for the Anne Frank house – which I have to say was a total letdown. The space is basically vacant (at Otto Frank’s behest), and though there are informational plaques scattered throughout the space, for anyone who already knows the story, the museum/house itself does little to increase knowledge or understanding.

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Then back in Vienna, the chilly fall is well underway. But in Vienna and Amsterdam especially, the fall colors are rich, vibrant, beautiful. Been too busy to blog, but now on a crisp Sunday morning, there’s a little time.

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