Here’s a Facebook message I sent to a good friend of mine the other day.

I was just checking to see if you and your family were okay from the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Please check in with me?”

As I read the response in horror, the words kept reverberating . . .

My brother was killed. Shot point blank in the head. He was 6’6” and couldn’t hide from them even if he wanted to. I pray he was killed immediately [and didn’t know what hit him], but I fear the terror of knowing that he was going to be killed was his experience.  His best friend (they knew each other from 3-years-old) found him.

That was a quote from a dear friend of mine, Nathalie Dubois. I was expecting to hear a mere, “My family is fine.”  I wasn’t expecting to hear, “They killed him!  They killed my brother!” Her brother was Fabrice Dubois, a recent casualty of the Bataclan concert hall terrorist attacks.  After our brief Facebook messaging session, I called her and she was inconsolable, naturally.

I thought long and hard about writing this article. The wounds are fresh. The anger of losing a loved one to senseless killings consumes us and especially the family and friends of the victims; I’m sure it must consume Nathalie—but I knew if I didn’t write this, I would regret it.  I wanted to help somehow.  The goal was to interview her. She is someone I have known for years. She lived with me briefly. She donated her kidney to save someone’s life. I was reminded by her that I wrote a letter to our government pointing out her virtues and how she would be an asset to our country. She is a French-born, free-spirited woman who has made a name for herself here in America.  I wanted to get her story, maybe understand from her perspective.  Just hours after learning about Fabrice, I visited Nathalie at her home.  I sat with her husband and their good friend while we talked about the the tragedy; sharing our thoughts and feelings . . .

How could we tolerate such senseless violence?

This was only two days before Nathalie was to leave for Paris to mourn with her family . . . it was a start.

French_flagWhat happened November 14, 2015, was numbing. Countless murders during simultaneous shootings and explosions at six locations, including Stade de France and the Bataclan concert hall shocked and angered the world. I know only a few people from Paris, France, yet I was deeply affected. Terrorist attacks are nothing new to me. After all I live in the United States. I watched the first plane hit the Twin Towers in New York City and stared at the TV in disbelief. I’ll never forget that day. So many people died. So many heroes risked it all to halt terrorists and stop a plane they were on from destroying the Pentagon and killing even more lives on that horrifying day. I asked myself, why Nathalie? Why did she have to lose her baby brother? What does it all mean?

I’m taking a deep breath and a deep look. We are here on this earth for a limited time. None of us knows when our time is up. We are part of a bigger plan. It’s up to us to make the most of the life we have now, for there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Something Nathalie said to me when I was sitting in her living room only a day after she learned of her brother’s death . . . “This summer was the first summer in a long time that I didn’t go to Tahiti. I spent it with Fabrice and his family. We had so much fun. I am so glad I did that now. I was able to spend that precious time with him and I will cherish those memories forever.” –Nathalie Dubois

So many lives have been lost over things such as opinions, entitlement, creed, greed, race, and stubbornness. Terrorism happens in many forms.  Just in my country alone, innocent children have been victims of terrorist acts from Americans with their own registered weapons killing countless unsuspecting babies, teachers, students, shoppers at malls, etc. Remember Sandy Hook, remember the Unabomber? Terrorists come in many forms. According to WordNet Dictionary a terrorist is defined as a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities.

In its broadest sense, terrorism is any act designed to cause terror. In a narrower sense, terrorism can be understood to feature a political objective. The word terrorism is politically loaded and emotionally charged. A broad array of political organizations have practiced terrorism to further their objectives. It has been practiced by both right- and left-wing political parties, nationalist groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments. The symbolism of terrorism can exploit human fear to help achieve these goals.

As we are taught . . . so do we think. Should we fight violence with violence, or retaliate with love? I don’t know the answer, but I can sleep at night knowing I didn’t harm anyone with my thoughts—and I’ve learned thoughts DO turn into things.