Thoughts on the Attack in Nice

I’ve only been to Nice once. Nine years ago, I walked along the Promenade des Anglais and the beach of the Baie des Anges before climbing La Cascade. I looked down on the terracotta rooftops of the city, spreading out beneath me, and the sky and the Mediterranean Sea both a bright, uncompromising blue, the whole area glazed in the gold of the sun. It was as beautiful as the nickname, Nissa La Bella, suggests and the city lodged itself firmly in my heart.

I have not been back. This has not been by choice. A combination of lack of money and lack of time has meant that I haven’t been able to get back to the city and explore it more fully, as well as seeing more of the surrounding sights of the Côte d’Azur and the countryside of Provence. But the area has formed part of the inspiration for the Kingdom of Tormile in the book I’m currently working on (an updating and adapting of Tornmile).

Waking up this morning to the news of a horrendous attack in Nice was like being punched in the gut. The sights of that wonderful holiday have become sites of blood and death. I cannot express how much it hurt to see innocent civilians, who had been out for the evening to celebrate Bastille Day, lying dead on the Promenade des Anglais.

I know that my hurt, my grief at this is tiny in proportion compared to that of the families of the victims of this atrocity. I know that my grief is tiny in proportion compared to that of the people of France. After all, I only went on a holiday I enjoyed in a place I came to love. I know that, but I feel it still. The senseless loss of human lives, including small children, cannot fail to inspire grief. To have walked that same ground, to have felt the sun and the sea wind and the sand beneath my feet, it makes the horror more real and the depravity more unimaginable. My thoughts go out to the families of the victims and the people of France in solidarity with love and hope.

When there is an atrocity like this, there has to be a response. There have to be investigations. There has to be justice. I fear that there will be blame and that it will be attached to the wrong people. I hope that the good people of France will forgive that fear, but the world has seemed very dark of late. Storm clouds gather across every horizon. A referendum in my country has brought out all sorts of xenophobia and racism, hate crimes and intimidation and abuse. I fear that the violence done last night will bring worse in my country and in others.

I hope that there will also be love. Love for the people who opened homes and restaurants to shelter people in need, love for the families of the victims, love for Nice, and love for France and all of her people. There is no good in this senseless tragedy. The good is to be found in how we respond to it, how it brings us closer together, though we speak different languages and live in different countries. Though our creeds are different, our religions or lack of them, our political leanings and ideas, our skin colour, our heritage, our nationality, our speech. Though all these things are different, we are, in the end, all the same. We are human. We are flesh and blood. We are pain. We are grief. We are love.

I hope, now more than ever, that we are love. I hope, now more than ever, we are with France.

I know that I am.

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