Are we all still France?

Paris was attacked one week ago today. Within minutes Nous sommes toute la France — We are all France– went viral on FaceBook along with French flags.

Very quickly U.S. Congressmen and a majority of governors in the United States went before television cameras and microphones to declare that Syrian refugees would no longer be welcome here.

Meanwhile a strange thing happened in France. French President Francois Hollande, speaking to French mayors, declared the opposite. He re-iterated and increased his commitment to France’s “humanitarian duty” to refugees fleeing Syria and Afghanistan.

Click After Attacks, France Increases Its Commitment to Refugees to read the story.

While the French President and President Obama have maintained balanced concerns for national security and humanitarian duty, fear has been spreading. Fear of terror is as legitimate in the U.S. as it is in France. It’s what we do with fear that matters.

Fear is the enemy of reason, the great confuser of thoughtful action. Those who stoke the embers of fear confuse fire with courage, forgetting that is is cowardice to surrender one’s deep principles when under pressure or assault. The courageous refuse to let fear determine their course; no darkness can extinguish the light.

One week after the Paris attacks we face the question of how to live in the reality of throngs of refugees and the threat of terrorism. It’s not simple. We can say to the world, Nous ne sommes pas tous de France. Nous sommes des lâches au cœur dur”  [We are not all France. We are hard-hearted cowards]or we can say again with the courage of high resolve and principled compassion:

“Nous sommes toute la France!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 20, 2015

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