2015: The year of the Eiffel Tower
The rumbling started in January. The first tremors of
a major earthquake. But the tower stood firm like the
French iron lady Marianne, that ‘goddess of Liberty’.
Freedom of speech is in the DNA of the French. Good
old Eiffel Tower was in 2015 more impressive than
ever before. A beacon of hope and the French backbone
of steel. Then an even bigger earthquake happened;
innocent people on terraces, in bars and in a
concert hall were killed. That is what earthquakes do.
But this time, once again, it was man made. In fact
millions of people all over the world felt attacked. Not
physically but in their mind set. The fear factor was
immediately on the rise.
9/11 and other terrorist attacks have taught us that
human beings are resilient, especially when confronted
with a ‘to be or not be’ situation. The overwhelming
majority of people on our planet are decent and
law abiding citizens, including the more than one
billion muslims. New York City, where another major
‘earthquake’ killed almost 3000 innocent people from
all religions, is more popular nowadays than ever before.
‘Rise above’ was one of the slogans of the Big
Apple after 9/11.
We can learn from others. I remember a conversation
I had years’ ago with the Mayor of Dearborn, the socalled
Muslim capital of the United States. Mayor Guido,
an Italian American, told me: ‘We have the secret
service to keep an eye on potential terrorists. That is
not my job. I am a bridge builder participating in all
kind of community building events, bringing people
together and celebrating diversity. The overwhelming
majority of my citizens are good people. Many are
Muslims and they are my friends. They are the first
line of defense against radicals’.
Wise lesson! My wish for 2016 is that the mainstream
in our society, let’s say, the silent majority, will ‘rise
above’ and takes action. I feel a sense of urgency that
the moderates in our societies must organize some
sort of vital center. We are the backbone of our societies.
The only way for us to defeat terrorism is to
build bridges between people of good will. Let’s call it
our peaceful revolution, some kind of a mental earthquake
and act together, in a decent way but definitely
loud and clear!