I hope you had a good week last week. There was good news in France, the numbers continue to go down. There are no more ‘Red’ spots on our map, the entire country is ‘green’ on the map, with only a very few small ‘orange’ spots—–the distinction being where the virus is under control or even non-existent, and the red spots being where it is still blazing, so it no longer is in France. As a result, we got some more privileges in our steady ‘deconfinement’ and easing of the rules, some more liberties for summer vacations. You can now go further than 100 miles from your home, and the most warmly received news in Paris: the re-opening of outdoor restaurants, which are always a big feature in Paris. And now every restaurant that can will have outdoor dining with social distancing. Slowly, slowly we return to normal. I’m grateful for any freedoms we have. It remains super important that we wear masks and maintain social distance. It seems a small price to pay for our health, to protect others and being able to pursue a relatively normal life in the crisis.
These are unquestionably troubled times. It seems as though every time I sit down to tell you something silly, or talk about spring weather, or find some degree of normalcy in very abnormal times, some other major event happens which upsets us all, takes our focus and/or tragedy strikes. I would rather not dwell on unhappy times when I write to you, but at times there is no way to avoid it. As the Pandemic began to take hold, it was no longer appropriate to chatter about fashion shows and parties. And now, here we are again. Even far away in France, all of Europe has eyes on the riots in the US, and the tragic reason for them, and as an American, it makes my heart ache to see the country torn up again. Will it never end? We barely struggle through one enormous challenge—and are faced with another. We need a break, and happier times! And we need what the Declaration of Independence promises: liberty and justice for all. And peace in our land.
Looking at the riots on the news, I am reminded of the “Yellow Jackets” in France a year and a half ago—-their cause was initially an honorable one: higher salaries, lower taxes, an earlier retirement age, and better pay for medical personnel. The demonstrations that were meant to be peaceful erupted into violence, blazing fires, destruction of property, theft and vandalism almost immediately—-entire streets of cars on fire, EVERY store on the Champs Elysees (80 of them) destroyed. Beautiful historical monuments decimated. Every single Saturday for 9 months, store fronts were smashed, restaurants were set on fire, violence, tear gas, destruction. The entire country was paralyzed every weekend, and everyone suffered. What I was saddest to see were the small businesses people had built for a lifetime, wantonly destroyed, and those small business owners would never be able to rebuild and lost their businesses and livelihoods forever. A high price to pay for a good cause. And very upsetting, when arrests were made, it was often discovered that those causing the violence had come from other countries and cities just for the day, young hoodlums, arrived just for the day just for the entertainment value of the violence and destruction, and to loot the stores. And almost comically, the destruction happened every Saturday from early morning until dinner time. Then everyone would go back to wherever they came from, and show up again to destroy the city the following Saturday. Billions of dollars of destruction, countless injuries and a number of deaths were caused, the destruction of beautiful monuments, people’s livelihoods lost forever, and a blow to the economy the country hasn’t recovered from yet. And for what? The good cause that was intended degenerated into uncontrollable violence. On a December Saturday, every single car on my street was set on fire. Clouds of tear gas hung over the entire city. Police tanks lined upon city streets. It looked like a war. The damage was caused by people called “Breakers”, who came to break everything in sight. They arrived with sledge hammers in hand to do the job.
What is happening in the States now is far more serious, and the cause a tragic one. And yet, despite the enormous seriousness of the cause, and the good intentions and aching hearts of the demonstrators——-there is an element of people who come on the scene, regardless of the cause, to break and burn and pillage and loot—-which entirely disregards the seriousness of the situation, and in their frustration disrespects it. People who come to exploit the situation, often once again from other cities—-and there is no way that breaking, destroying and looting and stealing sunglasses, leather jackets, expensive purses and microwaves and name brand running shoes is ever going to help the noble cause. The violence born of anger, anguish, compassion and frustration, which rapidly degenerates into theft and looting disrespects the very seriousness of the cause, and the tragic circumstances which lights the fuse to the stick of dynamite, and a mob mentality takes over.
I hope our country will find peace again, that our ills are cured (far worse than any virus), that justice prevails, that violence and injustice can be stopped, that peaceful voices with a powerful message will be heard, without violence. The sound of the mob drowns out the voices that speak up for justice, and peace and safety for all. I hope that the strong voices of peace and justice will be heard, and that violence will no longer be the first weapon people grab, the first reaction to heartbreak. I hope that the violence will end soon and that the changes that need to happen will happen swiftly and smoothly. I pray for peace in our troubled world. When hearts are broken and raw, violence is not the right answer. I hope we find the answers we need soon.
With love to you for a peaceful week, and I hope that the sorrow in our country heals soon.