On Friday the 13th November, 2015, fear was struck into the very core of everyone who is fond of travelling, when the beautiful city of Paris fell victim to a horrible, evil act of destruction. Everyone hopped onto Facebook to write to people they knew had been travelling there, and slight relief grew when users ‘flagged’ themselves as safe. Even back here in DCU, the ‘Beg, Borrow, Steal’ event – then run by the Esoc Society, and due to take place the following week – had to be called off. It was then that the reality really hit-home with students.
Concerns and worries began to swell a little bit more with the thoughts of the UEFA European Championship taking place across France,”What if they strike again while the Euros are on?”, “Surely the Stade de France would be a field day for ISIS?”, “What if the French president goes to a match and what if they’re after him the most?”. These became the topical questions of most European Cup conversations but it didn’t stop the Irish from travelling. And what if it had? We wouldn’t have had fabulous videos of all the Irish fans winning more honour than any soccer team could. We wouldn’t have seen those clips of the Irish fans getting the French police to dance and smile.We wouldn’t have had the video of those same fans packing money into the window of a car after damaging the body of it. And we wouldn’t have had those fans, who stole the hearts of every other nation in France during those four weeks.
I, myself, would have found it hard to go abroad, even for a weekend getaway, after the Paris attacks. December 2016, however, I was standing on top of the Eiffel Tower and later the L’Arc de Triumph and I never felt safer. Security across Paris and all big cities alike has come a long way – even going into the Disney store on the Champs Elysees, your bag is checked and if you raise any suspicion, they have handheld metal detectors to search you too.
It was thought that these terror attacks were being targeted towards the big cities of very powerful and affluent countries, but with Stockholm (a city in a neutral country) attacked just last week, it is impossible to predict where the next one will be. But we can’t live on a life of ‘what-ifs’, because life will always be unpredictable and you can’t plan everything.
St. Augustine once said “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page”.
So go find your story, even if it is only a novel, and don’t let anyone or any group rip your pages out.
Image Credit: Mark Carroll