Pray for Peace

Recently Paris was hit with a multitude of unspeakable attacks of terror. Unspeakable acts that have left me, and I’m sure many other people around the world reeling. Many of us were left not knowing where to turn for answers while others are left to mourn dead relatives and friends.

On Friday 13th I was babysitting for a French family in Billancourt-Boulogne, safely outside of Paris. That morning I had accepted a last minute request to babysit and cancelled my plans to visit a friend for drinks, who lives on the street leading off from Place de la Republique. It is easy to lose myself in ‘what ifs’; what if I had not been asked to babysit that night, what if one of my other friends had decided to join my friend near Place de la Republique and had got caught up in the shootings? What if one of the ugly threats from the extremists are true and Paris is hit with another attacks? It’s easy to lose one self in ridiculous what ifs and eventually I have to settle with the present reality. My friends and I are all safe. The increased police presence in Paris is for our safety and they can be regarded as a symbol of security and assurance rather than a sign for continued fear.

The following Monday I spent the minute’s silence with friends and fellow students at the Paris-Sorbonne University which was also attended by a couple Ministers and President Hollande. The sound of the French joining in union to sing the Marseillaise and applaud while shouting ‘Vive France!’ was extremely touching.

I can not help but feel that instead of turning to further acts of war in times such as these we need to dig deeper and respond with something more than reflexive acts of violence. I can’t agree with President Hollande’s response to bomb Syria and David Cameron’s demands for Brits to invoke the spirit of the Blitz so that the UK can ‘protect themselves’ by joining the war in Syria with military aggression.

Since Friday 13th, there have been similar acts of terror in Mali and Nigeria and prejudiced acts of backlash against Muslims.  Therefore I found myself, at the Place de la Republique memorial praying for Paris and for peace. As many have pointed out, the awful attacks in Paris occurred at a similar time of bombings in Beirut and multiple other tragedies around the world. As one of the victim’s husbands put so well in a heart breaking open letter to his wife’s killers, “I will not give you the gift of hating you” and by continuing on with our lives we defy those who seek to instill constant fear and paranoia into our worlds.

And go on we shall.


When thinking of the attackers I immediately thought of a poem an anonymous Dutch writer placed on the gates of the Concentration Camp Vught. The poet was writing to some hateful Nazi enthusiasts who had attempted to ruin a memorial wall at the museum by splashing tar on the names of those who had died at the camp. He or she is writing about a different kind of hateful attack on innocents and yet I think his words ring true for Friday 13th victims too.

Kon je teer smeren

Over steen, namen, verleden?

Dwaze stumper, zulke namen

Zijn nooit uit te wissen!

Ze staan gegrift in talloze

Mensenzielen, onaantastbaar

Voor jouw verziekte haat.

Ze staan met vuur geschreven

Aan de hemel, welks licht

Jou ondraaglijk is


Je hebt niets bereikt


Je hebt voor alles alleen

Je eigen naam besmeurd

Niet die van hen:

Zij glimlach om jouw woede

Badend in het licht,

Wiegend op Gods adem

En zingen heel zacht en stil

Voor wie het wil horen:



*National Momument outside Concentratie Kamp Vught, The Netherlands


See below my rough translation of the poem in English:

Could you smear tar

Over stone, names, and the past?

Foolish idiot, such names

Can never be erased!

They are engraved in countless

Of people’s souls, untouchable

For your sick hatred.

They are written with fire

In the sky, whose light

Is unbearable for you.


You have achieved nothing

You have only

Smeared your own name

Not theirs:

They smile at your rage

Bathed in light,

Swaying on the breath of God

And singing very softly and quietly

For those who want to hear it:




One thought on “Pray for Peace

  1. Such a meaningful post ❤ I was so glad to hear you were safe. I am going to have to agree with you – it's important not to dwell on and lose yourself in the what ifs, but instead just live life and not let those who try to deter you win.

    Liked by 1 person

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