After Brussels, if I had a child...

Article published on March 23, 2016
Article published on March 23, 2016

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

On the morning of 22nd March 2016, things changed. After Charlie Hebdo and Paris, the change had already begun. With Brussels, my beautiful, my home, it’s finished.  And as a young girl, I don’t think about myself. I think about the child that I don’t have yet. And what I would say to them, if they were here today…

If I had a child, I would talk to them honestly about the world which we live in. I wouldn’t try to steal their innocence, or to ruin their dreams. But I wouldn’t let them believe that the world was perfect.

If I had a child, I know how I would raise them. Their father and I would instil in them the important values which we are missing today. Respect, tolerance, acceptance of those who are different, and how rich that difference makes us.  I would teach them to celebrate difference, rather than be afraid of it…

If I had a child, I would tell them that it is the mistakes of our parents and of our grandparents that have led us to this. I would tell them that it is us, today, who have to live with it. But the good news is that they can repair these mistakes. Their generation will have the power to change things, provided that someone explains to them why it’s important…

If I had a child, I would teach them to be brave and strong. Their father would teach them how to fight. Not to attack, but to protect themselves and the things they love. At 12 years old, my child will be able to hit those who deserve it. I would teach them that they should never throw the first punch, even if the situation seems desperate. Because violence only leads to more violence...but at the same time I would teach them to live by the principle of 'an eye for an eye'. Because this seems to be the only language which the thugs understand. 

If I had a child, I would teach them to be a free spirit. To avoid being confined in a straightjacket, or forced into a mould. Because it’s the mould created by the do-gooders which hinders individuality. By wanting to force us to think like them, they are putting a stigma on anything which is different, creating fear of others, of foreigners…my son or my daughter will have their own mind, free to make their own choices based on their own instincts and their own evaluations…and not those which society dictates to them… 

If I had a child, I would tell them that the human being can still be saved. I would teach them to have faith in humanity, despite all of the hopeless, brutal and cruel things which it can do. Because if we no longer believe in a better world, what is the point of continuing the battle to live?

If I had a child, I would tell them about the Gods. Because they will hear talk of several of them. I would teach them about the different religions, their differences, but above all their similarities. Because in the end, whatever you call him, believing in God is believing in a superior power. So in fact, all those who believe, believe the same thing. They just use different words to express it…

If I had a child, I would tell them to have a small amount of fear.  Just enough to awaken their self-preservation instincts.  But the good kind of fear, the kind which drives us forward, makes us move, and makes us see beyond. Not the kind which paralyses us or makes us stupid. Definitely not the kind that makes us blind and refuse to see the reality of things...because denial is more dangerous than fear itself. If you refuse to see things as they really are, you can’t do anything to change them. 

If I had a child, I would apologise for having concived them. It was selfish of me. How, in the current climate, could I be happy about their arrival into the world? Knowing the world they would have to live in. A world where from now on, when looking for a house for themselves and their family, they don’t only have to take into account schools, shops and the transport in the surrounding area, but also its proximity to an area which is at risk of being bombed… 

And yet I know that the best response to horror and death is life. To continue to have children, and to teach them to be the responsible adults of tomorrow. Despite everything, continue to live like madmen, like desperate people who refuse to let themselves be destroyed by these monsters… only then can we beat this fear. Living is the most beautiful finger we can show to the monsters. And with a smile, please…

But the fact remains, if I had a child, I know what is waiting for them. And it’s for this reason, that I don’t have one…