A Few Words About Brussels

Why This Matters | Al | March 22, 2016

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I bit my tongue in November after Paris was attacked. I thought that being the only French speaker on our Rochester staff, I should have something insightful to say. But I didn’t. What could I possibly say to make anyone feel better at all? It was awful, and I tried not to think about it anymore than was necessary, let alone publish my feelings about it. I figured I’d just retweet Le Monde and Charlie Hebdo, and try to move on like everyone else. Disturbing, yes, but scared is no way to live, I told myself.

Today, I feel compelled to say something about what happened in Belgium. I’m writing about this with a heavy heart—Brussels is a place that means a good deal to me, as I spent my junior fall semester there, and still keep in touch with some “bruxellois”. For several months, twice a week I used to go through the metro stop that was attacked today. It’s really disturbing to imagine this place—the sight of the white tile walls with the station’s name drawn in both French and Dutch, the sound of a man sleepily playing an accordion near the steps—in such chaos.

Today, the world is mourning. I think it’d be good for everyone to show some solidarity with those who lost loved ones. While it might be convenient to turn this into a political or social crusade this afternoon (e.g. “If so and so is elected, tragedies like this will happen more/less frequently” or “This happened in Ankara and nobody cared nearly as much”), I think it’s best to hold off for a bit. It’s okay to voice your opinions on this sort of thing, but let’s at least have the decency and humanity to wait 24 hours out of respect for everyone in Brussels.