I have been mesmerized into muteness regarding Paris since the November 13 attacks.
A strange sensation like holding my breath has overtaken me – a kind of numbness and muteness. Writing has happened only in my head – and even then without much coherence.
Funny, since I was impelled to write quickly and passionately about Paris earlier in the year in the face of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I named that experience an Ebola of the Soul. It was so shocking to the human system because Paris has been the archetype for Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité. The native and planetary support for Paris in January 2015 was immediate, public refusal to succumb to the real severe bodily injuries and the greater threat to freedom of speech (and the implied hostility to evolutionary consciousness itself).
But the November 13 attacks give bleak evidence of the dark intelligence behind the war theatre that was choreographed into the daily life of Paris – slaying and injuring people at sports, entertainment, dining and shopping venues. Re-creation itself was targeted – selecting places where all the 4 voices of the city congregated for the simple enjoyments and pleasures of life that renew, refresh and reconnect.
The planned simultaneity of the attacks heightened the reactions of fear, even as it stretched the emergency response systems to points of ineffectiveness. Our belated overviews of the situation reveal the reality of the VUCA intentions designed into the multiple attack zones:
Volatility at each site heightened because of the synchronization of the many battle zones;
Uncertainty because each and all City Voices (Citizens, Civic Managers, Civil Society, Business) at the many sites became confounded by the scale of local horror and disconnection from what people expect in their normal lives;
Complexity because people were overwhelmed with threat, injury and death without immediate explanation; and
Ambiguity because the meaning of the incidents and perpetrators of the acts emerged from shadow, disappeared into shadow and acted in darkness.
Moreover the timing of the attacks in the evening, literally taunted the City of Light by turning it into a city of darkness.
While the reactions inside and outside Paris to the Charlie Hebdo attack were swift and positive, the November 13 attacks were designed to overwhelm and confuse the responses of the city, nation, EU and world. They were deliberately designed to bring out the worst of human reactions – provoking counter threats, counter attacks and revealing the ineptness of authority and power in contrast to the self-righteousness of the attackers and their cause.
A month later authorities remain confounded by the death of martyred perpetrators at the scenes and/or the escape of perpetrators across borders and into the thousand hidey holes that support them (and their brothers) in the “sophisticated” cities of Brussels? Geneva? San Bernardino? It is a message with a strong “sous entendu” that no one is safe – not just in Paris but in any city of the world.
This fear and disconnectedness is exactly what the guerrilla factions want. They will be rejoicing at the political contractions and blame postulated by the far right (Le Pin, Trump). They are working at creating the conditions for expanding and spreading the Ebola of the Soul that Charlie Hebdo spawned, to a more Culturally Viral Ebola of the Body spawned by the November 13 outbreaks.
Does this mean that Paris’s natural contraction to protect itself is not appropriate? Or can we acknowledge that we all have been wounded. My own muteness/numbness is a reflection of Paris’ condition. Je Suis Paris – just as Je Suis Charlie. The Paris-wide scale of attack leads not only to the viral dis-ease but also to post traumatic stress disorder. Paradoxically just as we seek to hide from one another – in our pain, suspicion and pessimism – this is the time when we need each other most. “If you want to improve the health of a system, connect it to more of itself.”
Just as we discovered in contemplating Charlie Hebdo and the reality of the Politics of Dignity Trumping the Politics of Fear (regarding the not unrelated refugee situation) our first and strongest defence has to be to look within our own body/mind/heart/spirit. That is where we find the source of courage, respect, dignity, love and light for enacting wellness. But in order to do that, we need to connect to each other even in the times of greatest darkness – with compassion – so we can amplify the best of human nature that enables us to confront our deepest fears.
When the City of Light turns into the City of Darkness, perhaps there is an immune system, so deeply rooted in Life that our human system can find the way through our evolutionary battlegrounds back into the Light? Let us hope that such a visceral dissonance to our calling to be Gaia’s Reflective Organs prompts a compassionately fierce immune response. Perhaps we are even witnessing in Paris the “fever crisis” that presages a breakthrough to a new level of evolutionary wellbeing for humans (and our Human Hives)?