We are heartsick about the attacks in Paris a city that, after one visit, makes a person feel like it is somehow theirs, so perfect are its memories.  We have been casting about for some words that shed light on what seems like a time of such profound darkness…

This piece from Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 by Salman Rushdie directly addresses how to defeat terrorism by a man who has experienced it firsthand. For almost a decade, he was the focus of a Muslim fatwā ordering his execution because his novel The Satanic Verses was “blasphemous against Islam“.

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.

How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.” 

Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

The second is by Anne Frank:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

The “candles” that give light can take many forms. They are the “weapons” Rushie speaks of: writing, expression, beauty, love…

…defiant, antidotes, all



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2 replies on “The Words We Found for Paris 11/15

  1. Beautifully chosen, Sally. Thank you.

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