trying to find the words

As a writer, words are my thing: they’re my tool, my voice and often my comfort. Writing helps me make sense of the world, to interpret everything that I experience (or imagine) and turn it into something that has meaning – even if only for me.

But right now I can’t find the right words at all. When I heard about the atrocities that took place in Paris last Friday night, like everyone else I knew, I was shaken and appalled. I took to social media where my Twitter and Facebook feeds were lit up with reactions. I read, digested and inwardly responded, but did I manage to put any of those responses down? No.

eiffel towerAs the day continued and I saw and heard reports of the Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiment the attacks sparked, I felt even more sadness and wanted to express so much but the words tangled themselves up and that was that.

And then I wanted to blog about it, but that wasn’t happening either. So I decided I wouldn’t – I’d just write my weekly #WhatImWriting post on a totally different subject. But I’ve tried that and it felt wrong too. I’ve had to ignore far too many elephants in rooms over the past few years and this particular one was getting fidgety and wouldn’t be brushed aside. You feel something: express it! it whispered in my ear.

I’m trying, elephant, I’m trying!

But it’s still not happening. I think it’s because there’s too much to say and it’s underlaid with so much emotion. And there are too many discussions and comments circling in my head.

So I’m just going to express what I feel most – beyond the revulsion and sadness that this could happen at all, and the compassion for all affected by it – which is that we cannot let them win. And any feelings of hate and mistrust and anger that we direct towards anyone other than the terrorists who took this vile action (and those who commit similar acts of barbarism the world over*), is a step in the wrong direction: they want to spread fear and hate.

So I’m going to focus on the outpouring of empathy across the the media, on my Facebook feed that turned red white and blue, on the cities around the world that lit up with the colours of the French flag. I’m going to remember the ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ that France has as its motto and the many billions of people across the globe who stand by that. For, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. :

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Writing Bubble

*… because I know it’s not only Paris that deserves our empathy and support, but that’s whole other blog post.

19 thoughts on “trying to find the words

  1. Mummy Tries

    I absolutely adore that quote, it’s probably my favourite of his. It’s shocking how much hate can start spreading at a time like this, but ultimately it breeds fear and we must not EVER live our lives in fear. Great post hon, sending love your way dear Maddy xxx

  2. Nicola Young

    I know what you mean. So many thoughts, things to say, to reflect upon, but where do you start and how do you really begin to process all the hate that exist around us.

  3. Morgan Prince

    I’m feel much the same Maddy, I wanted to write a post about it but couldn’t find the words. It’s such a horrid thing to have happened but being able to express my feelings in words just seems to difficult. That is a fantastic quote, and so true. xx

  4. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Maddy, I have felt that it is so hard to write something that encompasses all the feelings and emotions that these events bring to the forefront of our lives. Well done for giving it a go. You touch on the difficulties that Paris is, has been and will be just one of many such events in our world. Although I have not been affected directly, you are right we cannot let fear become dominant. I am starting to think that the way forward is love and forgiveness, and not to turn ourselves into the enemy that they want to vilify. xx

  5. Susie Fiddes

    Thanks for this post in support of France and also all civilised society, I guess. I haven’t been able to write my feelings down about this either. I’m still in shock how it is we could go out on a Friday night and just not come home. Why these dreadful people exist. What to do about them and their kin. A tough week indeed. And then news from Mali. Praying this will end x

    1. Maddy Post author

      I know, it’s so shocking it’s hard to know what to say, especially with the backlash of hatred and fear. I think we have to try and remember all the goodness in humanity as well as the bad. xx

  6. Tracey Abrahams

    Ive seen that quote many times this week and it perfectly sums up how we need to proceed. The whole aim of terrorism is to control through fear. It is right to aknowledge our fear, and to be sensibly cautious but it must not be our driving force for our reactions to these attrocities.
    If we can show love, kindnes and acceptance to the refugees, muslims, and everyone in the world, we kill the fear and weaken the terrorists. Light will drive out the darkness xx
    Thank uou for sharing this post with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything xx

  7. Sophie Lovett

    I feel exactly the same way. So much I want to say but words just don’t seem to be enough… I’ve been appalled by how many people seem want to use the attacks as an excuse to propagate more hate, but at the same time comforted by how many others, like you, recognise that to do that would only be helping the terrorists win xx

    1. Maddy Post author

      I know – the attacks were horrendous and you want to world to react with nothing more than love and compassion, but hatred and fear are powerful things. Not as powerful as love though, I HAVE to believe that and that’s why I love the quote so much. Thanks Sophie. I thought you expressed your feelings really well in your post. xx


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