Late on Thursday, I had driven my father and sister back to his Pennsylvania house (a 2 and 1/2 hour trip). Yesterday I came back here to the Catskills. I have been so stressed out in the last month over the death of my uncle and especially my mother, I wanted to be alone here in my own house for a few days…. and listen to music, watch the occasional deer, and stare at the scenery:
But that didn’t mean I’d cut myself off completely. Last night, I was chatting with a cousin on the phone. We were discussing my mother and my uncle, and their deaths, and remembering family, such as our grandparents.
Suddenly my wife messaged me – from ENGLAND – asking had I seen what was happening in Paris?
Then I made “the mistake” of checking Twitter – and saw my timeline was in meltdown. As the tweets on the mass murders rolled by, I told my cousin, who turned on her television, and our conversation changed dramatically.
Naturally MUCH will be said in the days and weeks to come. Already the analysts and television pundits are at work. And there are the endless social media debates about why, what can be done, and about France itself, and so on.
Here, I will offer only this much: there is a badly mistaken attitude held by some outsiders about the country. There are always the jokes about wine and cheese and food and all the holiday time. Far less humorous, of course, is the “surrender” insult – which is ignorant nonsense that often comes from some who should know a helluva lot better.
The bottom line is this. Don’t misunderstand its “good life” veneer. Underneath it, France has a soul of steel.