To Paris, with love was home alone on Friday night, planning a relaxing evening with my lazy dog, a glass of red wine and Justin Bieber’s new album. I emptied the few remaining contents of my fridge for a fine dining mush that only the best culinary artists could learn in a college dorm. All seemed pretty okay in the world.

It wasn’t until mid-tweet to Bieber that I noticed #PrayforParis trending on Twitter, and with the tap of a trackpad my heart sank.

At 11 years old, I didn’t understand. I didn’t feel that sense of fear or hurt that others can tell you about. Instead, I mimicked the emotions and reactions of the adults around me because to an 11 year old, terrorist attacks don’t make sense. To be honest, to a 25 year old, terrorist attacks still don’t make sense.

When Sept. 11, 2001 happened, I didn’t understand. But when Nov. 13, 2015 happened, I understood.

I understood that there was evil in the world as I watched people dragging their injured or dying loved ones through Parisian streets. I understood the fear that comes when you hear people crying as they run away from gun shots ringing behind closed doors. My heart was and is heavy for Paris and its people.

But it wasn’t the fear or pain that moved me the most, it was the love.

When you think of Paris, you think of love and what I saw in the repeated news reels was just that. I saw love in a man who helped drag a stranger to safety. I saw love in the people who ushered victims into their homes for shelter. I saw love in the brave who risked death and returned to help others out of the Bataclan. Between the tears and broken hearts, I saw love in the hugs and kisses of friends, family and strangers.

I know there is evil in this world, but I now know there is also good.

It’s these people who prove that. They give hope and light to a world that desperately needs it. They show the strength and resilience of not only the French, but of those who stand together and show love in the face of fear and death. Guns help fight wars, but it’s the love in people who win them.

Just as the French stood with the United States during 9/11, I hope we can do the same. But let’s not turn this into an opportunity for ignorant, political commentary; instead, let’s use this opportunity to share a love that not only unites but also heals.


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