When I was 23 years old, my father very unexpectedly passed away due to a medical procedure gone wrong.
I remember leaving the hospital where it happened and going back to my house.
To go home I needed to walk through a street where a typical Dutch market fair was going on, with hundreds of people strolling past the stalls buying their groceries and toiletries, doing their daily thing.

I could not comprehend how all these people could be shopping as if nothing had happened.
It was like walking in a bad dream. My world had collapsed, something horrendous had happened in my life and the people around me were going about their business as usual.

My mother and I received loving support and compassion which helped us heal and eventually get on with our lives.
The death of my father also added to our understanding of the value of life, every life, and how life can change in the flash of a moment.

This memory came back to me ever so strong, when I stood in the kitchen of my house at Scheveningen harbor on the 14th of November and heard the whistle of a boat announce the arrival of Sinterklaas, the traditional Dutch event comparable to yearly return of Santa.
I had totally forgotten about it and was flabbergasted.
How could people be gathering to celebrate a tradition, after what had happened in Paris only hours before?
How could people be doing their business as usual?

Apparently I was not the only one asking this question.
Following the news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris, I observed a discussion emerge,on how Paris is only part of the atrocities happening in the world today.
Even if it is a very difficult statement to make, what happened in Paris was apparently necessary to wake up the world.
It comforts me to hear both world leaders and people from all walks of life say that what happened in Paris, is not just about Paris. It comforts me to hear appeals to mourn all victims of terrorist crimes.

I saw a newsflash of Obama and Putin, gathered around a table in a hotel lobby, talking on an informal basis, out in the open, without the usual pandemonium of scheduled talks, dinners and official statements.
This encourages me to join in the fight for freedom and safety for all.

I pray the people of the world will grow to understand, we have a whole lot to do in the world, for ourselves and for each other.
I pray for world leaders and all people of the world to hold on to this thought. To wake up to the reality that we need to do this together and grant all people the opportunity to live their life in safety with opportunities in every aspect of life.

This change will not come overnight.
But let’s pray future history books, will explain how the attacks in Paris were the onset of making people aware we need to live and love together. Let’s pray that what happened in Paris will not be forgotten and pushed aside by old traditions and frames of mind that have outgrown their validity.

In that sense the terrorist attacks all over the world, causing immeasurable grief, have a lesson to teach; the lesson that our empathy, compassion and support, not only applies when something happens close to home, but also when it concerns the rest of the world.

This blog is recorded as weekly end-note of the Dutchbuzz edition of November 17, the radio program for internationals, every Tuesday on The Hague FM from 10 to 11 pm.
All programs are archived at Dutchbuzz.nl.