We Are One

Paris - family - June 2013 - Arc de Triumphe

By Judy Berman

When I look in the eyes of a stranger, I see a potential friend. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same outlook.

The deadly attack in Paris on Friday the 13th reinforces our wariness about unfamiliar faces – whether it’s at home or abroad.

Our first trip overseas took place four months after Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. It killed all 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground.

This should have been a happy time for passengers returning home for the holidays. Instead, it was a heartbreaking ending. Many of those aboard were Syracuse University students from my hometown.

That fatal trip weighs on my mind each time my family plans a trip overseas. The terrorist attack in Paris on November 13th, especially, hit home.

Eiffel Tower at sunrise - 2005

We’ve visited the City of Lights several times, and each time we felt welcomed.

How could we not?

Whether strangers or friends, we are one. We all share space on this third rock from the Sun.

Horrible tragedies, committed by hate-filled fanatics, often dominate the news. The real heroes, who need to be remembered, are those who reach out to help others even when it puts them in harm’s way.

Paris - Jardin des Tuileries - 2007

After the tragedy in Paris on November 13, Florida Today columnist, Britt Kennerly, said one song has been playing over and over in her head: The Alternate Routes’ song, “Nothing More.” It was written by Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly to honor those lost in the Newtown tragedy.

“We are love, we are one
“We are how we treat each other when the day is done
“We are peace; we are war
“We are how we treat each other and nothing more.” (“Nothing More”)

This embraces the basic tenet of the major religions – the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Paris and all of France, you are in my prayers and in my heart.


Have you been more skittish about foreign travel as a result of these deadly attacks?


Photo: Our family at the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Taken: 2013.

Photo: The Eiffel Tower at sunrise – taken January 11, 2005, from the Place du Trocadero, Paris, France. Source: standblog.org – Author: Tristan Nitot   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/af/Tour_eiffel_at_sunrise_from_the_trocadero.jpg/400px-Tour_eiffel_at_sunrise_from_the_trocadero.jpg

Photo: Jarden des Tuileries, Paris. Taken February 2007. Author: Pline https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a8/Jardin-des-tuileries.jpg/640px-Jardin-des-tuileries.jpg

Music Video: The Alternate Routes – “Nothing More” (official video) – featured on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. “Nothing More” was written for and inspired by the work of friends at Newtown Kindness.         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tXzlVjU1xs 

  1. You can’t be frightened or they win. It does make you think twice about anyplace that has more than 3 people. I don’t understand it. They must be broken people.

  2. I read this elegant essay both as tribute and elegy.

    You have a beautiful family, a loving grouping of kindred spirits.

    The bubbles in the video are so appropriate, reminding us of the ephemeral nature of our lives here – and the joy.

    About foreign travel – our pastor is taking a group to Israel in March 2016. The world situation seems most unstable now, but he doesn’t believe we should live our lives in fear, the opposite of love. Though we are not making the trip with the group, I tend to agree with him.

  3. I love Paris. I was an au pair girl there many moons ago. Such a beautiful city. I was there last March, and I had to admit I was more nervous than I’d normally be. But I remembered these things can happen anywhere, and if I stay away out of fear, I’m doing exactly what the terrorists want.

    1. Carrie … We love Paris, too. How long did you work there?

      You’re right. We can encounter danger and evil wherever we go. But we also can find wonderful people and a grand adventure when we go outside our comfort zone. 😉

  4. Well, I don’t live my life in fear, but at the same time, I am cognizant of what constitutes a target of opportunity. Luckily, my own preference is for few people and rarely go to any “event”. That should minimize chances to be involved on something like that.

    On the other hand, I’m more likely to be attacked by a crook than by a terrorist here or anywhere. Despite the sensational nature of these attacks, they are very rare when considering our collective lives.

  5. I think many of us stop and pause in a variety of situations. I remember when my girls were first in school, and I could walk into the building at any time. Then after 9/11, all sorts of security measures were put into place. Some people are afraid to go into movie theaters or attend sporting events. I think you have to just live your life, or the evil people have won. So I hope you and your lovely family–and I expect to read all about it here on your blog!

    1. Merril … Our family has taken a few vacations together overseas and we’ve always had an excellent time meeting the people who live there. I don’t plan to let the evil people dictate my travel destinations. 😉

  6. I am stunned by the audacity of the attacks in Paris. But I am no longer afraid – only furious. I have a feeling an international coaliton of not just governments and armies, but of people will be forming to set the world on a path to peaceful coexistence. I love your post and the song with bubbles to illustrate the joy of life.

    1. Doran … I do hope you’re right about people of many countries working together to forge a peaceful coexistence. That is the dream.

      I’m glad you liked the song and bubbles. I first saw it on my friend’s Facebook posts. 😉

  7. Yup in a word …in the last few years I have been wary of flying . I had put it down to the menopause because I ve been techy about travel and I have never been in my life I have always loved traveling not a scared bone in me but now … And yet I am allowing the baddies to win . This year I went in a canal boat in Wales …no stress loved it .cherryx

  8. i love the powerful and simple lyrics. they say it all. all of this sadness and hateful acts has not changed my approach to anything in life. it simply makes me want to reach out to spread kindness even more.

  9. Judy, thank you for this profound reminder: “Whether strangers or friends, we are one. We all share space on this third rock from the Sun.” And your wonderful picture of family together, embracing each other and life, and smiling. This is a beautiful post.

  10. Judy what a wonderful photo of your family. I loved Paris and could not imagine such a place in turmoil. I guess we all have to be on our guard and Im not sure if I had the chance to travel at the moment I would take it. Sad but a reality of life.

      1. I remember years ago when there were planes dropping from the sky due to negligence this company had to almost pay people to fly with them. We took that offer up as we were young and stupid. I would not do it now Judy.

      2. When we flew to London, after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Pan Am offered a free flight to any of its other destinations if you first flew to London. We planned to go anyways and signed up for it. Our 2nd flight took us to Mexico City. Crazy. I probably would be more cautious now as well. 😉

  11. Loved the post.

    As one sees the world morphing into a place where a stranger is looked at with suspicion and no longer welcome and higher walls get built between “We” and
    “Them”, we get down to debating these aspects. Forgetting that these are mere symptoms and the core issues remain unsaid. Have we wondered why this is so? Have we articulated about the kind of leadership needed in such a situation?


    1. Shakti …
      In one of my ESOL classes, I have students from a diverse background. Sometimes, they pick on each other and call each other names – somestimes in their home language. When those words are translated, there are hurt feelings. After a student told me about being called names, I talked with the whole class. I noted that we all have different color skins, different genders (not to mention different religions and cultures). Then, I told them that the basic tenet of all major religions is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I asked if they wanted to be treated the way they were treating others. No one said they did.
      It’s a shame that the adult “leadership” can’t foster this kind of understanding and find a path for us all to work together peacefully.
      Thank you for your presencce,

  12. I wouldn’t say I feel wary of strangers because of terrorist attacks, I just don’t look at people in that way. But having said that, I am aware from experience of meeting people that I later wished I’d never met, we all need to be a little cautious who allow into our lives – some people can create chaos. And that’s a general rule, nothing to do with terrorism at all. I always observe what is said, behaviour, and body language before I decide to be friends with someone new. Lessons previously learned! 😉

    I’m sure some people will be nervous travelling to different countries from now on, but I doubt it will prevent anyone from going to places they feel they need to visit. Long distance travel is a way of life for pretty much everyone now.

    When London and other cities in Britain were being heavily bombed in the second world war, it didn’t prevent anyone from using public transport or going about their life as they would have before the war. A woman I knew many years ago, told me about her experience as a young woman at that time, she said “We just stepped over all the rubble from the bombing the night before and went to work as usual.” I think the only thing that will prevent travel, will be governments deciding an area is closed to visitors.

    1. Suzy … I may warm quickly to people. But, to let them into my life, I’ve learned as you have that it’s best to take a measure of a person before I do so.

      That woman’s experience about going about her life “as usual” after a bombing appears to be a part of the survival skills that many adapt to get back to normal. 😉

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