NATHANIEL TRAN- My sincerest condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one in the wake of violence across the world in the past week. I don’t only speak to the tragedies that struck Paris, but also in solidarity with the Black young men and women who face violent and oppressive circumstances across the United States, to the lives torn apart by bombings in Baghdad, and to the Syrian refugees who continue to seek safety from a tyrant government. At this moment in the history of mankind, we face an unprecedented level of violence that takes innocent lives daily.
Many of my friends and family contacted me immediately when they heard about the attacks in Paris. They were so aware of what was happening due to the ample media coverage, but remember that this type of violence occurs across the world. It takes on many forms and many names, but regardless it happens daily. The loss of lives in Paris this weekend was a grave tragedy, and I urge you to mourn those lives but also to mourn the lives lost to continual oppressive regimes and systems of governments around the world that go unannounced.
I am fortunate that all my friends in Paris were safe and immediately out of harms way, but that was by pure chance. Many students studying abroad in Western Europe find themselves backpacking across the continent, myself included. We often forget that we are entering someone else’s home. In the case of this weekend’s attack, my friends were fortunate to have been out of harms way but it could have happened to any of the dozens of Tufts students who visited Paris throughout the semester. I’m not sure if vigilance would have been enough to spare us had anyone been caught in the crossfire. These acts of terrorism are seemingly unavoidable and so all I can say is that the Tufts community was fortunate not to have lost anyone. In the wake of these tragedies, remember that for some people these acts of violence and death are a reality of their lives.
We as humans have made incredible advances that will everlastingly shape our future. We eradicated smallpox and are on the verge of eliminating polio. We traveled to the moon and are preparing ourselves to visit Mars sometime in my lifetime. But we still fail at maintaining peace. I do not think war and violence are inherent to human existence nor do I have an ultimate solution to the current state of violence across the world. But what I can say is this, the families in the US, Paris, Baghdad, Beirut and other communities around the world that continually suffer from violence do not deserve it, no one does.
It feels like all I can do is to pray for peace, but that seems like a vane effort. I don’t know for certain if there is a God above, but I do know that I can change my actions. These acts of violence remind me that I can choose to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I can choose to act out of compassion, kindness with an open heart and open mind. That’s all I can control.
On Saturday night I stood on the metro next to a baby in a carrier. As I looked down at his almond shaped eyes as he wriggled in his knit grey sweater, all I could think was that he was the future of humanity. So young and full of opportunity, I could only hope for a better future. I could only hope that he would grow up in a better world. That’s what makes us human, our ability to find hope under any circumstances and as long as there is hope there is chance for a better world.