Well, how are ye? No, seriously, how are you? Are you okay, all right? Have you checked in with someone recently, rang them, talked to them, let them hear your voice, made eye contact? Are you okay, are you at home, safe and untroubled? All your folks okay? All your neighbours?
These days, my friends, these terrible, terrible days. We sit, and horrors play out on the images on our eyes. Toddlers’ bodies flop and slack on beach fronts, teenagers flee down dark streets from concerts. And unlike the gentle words used in newspapers when I was growing up, all of it is visible and clear. Last night I watched video by a journalist who lived across from the Bataclan, showing people jumping over dead bodies at doorways, while on an upper storey window a pregnant woman clung to a metal bar, and pleaded with someone to pull her in, she was slipping. The footage ends before she gets in, there’s no way to know right now if she is okay. If anyone is okay. No one is okay.
The picture of the inside of the Bataclan looks exactly like the end of any concert, bar the larger mass of the bodies.
And what can I do, faced with the visual of these enemies of me, what weapons can I bring to bear on these men, these haters of my ways and my times? What armour can I clad myself in when I see the acts they will do? What can I do that is strong enough to stop them, I who know nothing, I who can do nothing? I am no soldier, not accustomed to hardship or battles. I can call no orders, lead no charge… But I do have in my bag of tricks something that is strong enough against these people. I, and everyone I know, can call forth around them a weapon as strong as any fanatic, a wall of safety bigger than any gun. I can and do know exactly the form of words that will dispel the power of these men’s ways, and it is exactly strong enough to remove their power on this earth.
This power grew to a concentration just where this latest attack took place, In Paris, where the ideals and principles founded by our own culture and society began to take modern form. This power is founded in the creation of humanity as equal, and where each of us share Rights Inalienable, and undeniable, in the eyes of the executive and legislative function of our state. It is in the ideals of proportionality, in the concepts of Fairness and Privacy, in the motto and guide of our fallen brothers, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. It has its own magic phrases such as Habeas Corpus, Presumption of Innocence, and deorum Injuriae Diis Curae, phrases stronger than any spell Harry Potter could cast about. It is a power brought about by years of argument and counter-argument, from men like Hume, Locke, Kant. It has just as much imagination, power, and yes, perhaps even magic, behind it, to make the world safe again.
These men, who would destroy us, know nothing of us, for they don’t know we can control the very turn of the earth with these words. They think we are all alike, and that we will live in fear and hate because they must. They think we will turn into them, and hate back, kill back, because that is all we can do. But they are wrong, for we have laws as strong as a mother’s love for her child’s heart. We will find these men, and all the other men. We will track them down, and we will stop them. We will look them deep in the eye, and do the one thing they do not want us to do.
We will arrest them in the name of the Law, that thing that they act against and that thing we must use now more than ever.
In the name of the Law, may it always be strong.