I have been neither to Mali nor to Beirut, but I have been to France. In light of the recent attacks by extremists in all three places, I figured one thing I could do was share here some of my photos from France, a country where I lived for a year as a high school exchange student when I was 16. I have stayed in contact all these years with the family I lived with, in Alsace in eastern France. In May 2015, I was able to spend a week in France visiting various "family members" as well as some other friends of mine who live in Rennes.
Needless to say, I deplore thoughtless destruction of human life and the impetus to impose a single set of values on all the lives in the world. It happens in democracies as well as in dictatorships, and we have to work hard all our lives to nurture fairness and tolerance and respect for the world and all the peoples in it.
Now some views in France, an imperfect place like any other but certainly not deserving of random terrorism. No one is. Anywhere. Isn't it about time we all take up working toward more global cooperation rather than increasing fear and hatred and divisions based on the behavior of extremists? We can take a photo of Pluto but we can't work together to solve hunger, poverty and inequalities? The reason I was an exchange student to France way back when was because my school was part of the school exchange project set up by the Quaker organization (called the American Friends Service Committee). It sought to reestablish trust and understanding between nations after World War II. They set up these exchanges in schools in France, England, the USA and Germany. I felt so fortunate to be part of that effort. Each of us had a small role to play, which added up in the long run to something bigger.
|My French "nephew" Frederic taking his son to school|
|Frederic taking me to the airport, via the River Seine.|
|modest Mariko, my longtime friend|
|in this famous park in Rennes |
and at the market on a Thursday morning.
|Mailys and her children, in Paris, on the train|
|a market in Rennes|
|my French "sister", Maud, in her kitchen in Mulhouse|
THIRD, WONDERFUL MOMENTS:
|Maud and donkey (?), during our long afternoon walk|
|a stork nest, in Alsace|
|a stork overhead|
|in the Rhine Valley of Alsace, looking toward Germany|
and in the VOSGES [Mountains]:
|looking from Alsace over the Rhine River to the Black Forest in Germany|
|Annette and a friend come to the mountains for a Sunday walk.|
|un cafe, s'il vous plait....|
It should go without saying that the idea of not welcoming refugees to our country is insanity! We Americans allow any kind of person to own a gun and then some of them wreck havoc and kill children, yet we shouldn't reach out to people in need because of atrocities in their own countries? Give me a break. Fear may be convenient, but it is not helpful in the face of tragedy. Merci, mes amis, et a la semaine prochaine, Ann