This blog post was supposed to be about a completely different topic, but I just couldn’t do it after what happened in Paris on Friday night.
First thing I did when I woke up on Saturday was to check the score of France and Germany’s friendly. I’m an avid fan of the Germany national team, but the big time difference makes it quite hard to watch the games live while I’m here in Australia, hence I stick to checking results in the morning. And first thing I saw when I turned on my phone was a Twitter notification from one of my favourite football players. It read “Just pray…” and a French flag emoticon. My heart dropped. This wasn’t happening, not again.
My phone went haywire from all other messages. That’s Facebook letting me know that all my friends in Paris have checked in as safe. My brother studied in Paris for two years and now lives in Lyon; one of my cousins currently lives down there as well. When I visited Lyon last February, just a few weeks after Charlie Hebdo, you could see the “Je suis…” posters everywhere. It was hard to miss that something big and scary had happened. Something bigger and scarier happened now.
I had to scroll through my Twitter football feed for miles and miles to see the score or actually learn that the game had – unbelievably – ended in full time. Not that any of that matters at all. It is the most surreal thing to go through the timeline backwards from the messages relaying the latest, ‘what we know now’ information to the photos of people flooding the pitch after the final whistle to the first ones about the blasts heard from outside Stade de France. The game was still on-going when the stadium went into lockdown. I suppose they continued for security reasons, making it even more surreal and putting a different spin to those ‘football is more than just a game’ sentiments.
I have to admit, another thing that came to my mind was: ‘What about the Paris climate meeting?’ It’s supposed to start in two weeks, with the heads of state expected for the last few days of the summit. Terrorism and climate change. Hard to measure the scale of both. Both erupting in incredibly violent displays. Two biggest threats to humanity today.
I’m trying to find some smart or analysing or inspirational words, but keep on coming up short. It’s all emotions now. Half the world away all I care about is that my family and friends are safe, in Paris or elsewhere. And praying for all of us to stop having to wake up to such terrible news.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation. She is currently in Perth, Australia to do field work for her thesis.