“Breaking: Terrorist Attack hits Brussels,” “This Time, It’s London,” “Prime Minister Trudeau Offers Sympathy to Victims of Nice Attack.” Headlines we’ve sadly become accustomed to. But does society view these attacks as attacks on humanity as a whole, or solely on the country’s affected? As a witness of the attack in Nice, every terrorist attack now feels personal to travelers and myself alike.
Nice. “Where’s Nice?” many of my friends asked before I departed on my trip to the French Riviera. A city with a population a little over a seventh of Toronto’s, the city I call home. Known for it’s crystal-clear beaches, incredible bread and wine, and home of natural lavender plants, Nice remained France’s hidden gem. Until the night of July 14th, 2016.
What was an amazing day filled with parades, celebrations, and fireworks, would quickly take a turn for the unexpected worse as a terrorist attack hit the heart of the city. Dozen’s of messages and calls flooded my phone, but little did I know that physically running away from the attack and being capable of leaving France, didn’t mean it would be as easy mentally.
Being my third time in France, and considering it my favorite country, I went on this trip never considering terrorist attacks personal. As the majority of us experience it from an outsider’s point of view, we often feel saddened or sympathetic for the country targeted. But it’s important to remember that Nice is a place that thrives on tourism, and it can be easily argued that many of the people fatally attacked that dreadful night were not French. A father and son from Texas and a Ukrainian student studying in Canada were among some of the victims. This was an attack on those countries as well, as will all future terrorist attacks.
Sleeping is hard. Eating is hard. Talking about it is hard. Being someone who usually thrives on the knowledge that I have a trip to a foreign country approaching, to someone who almost considered never leaving North America again, is difficult to think about. Watching my best friend be uncomfortable in silence and feel uneasy at church is hard. The attack is never just on the day it occurs. It will always be a part of those involved. Feeling fear to go to an airport, attend a parade, or to watch fireworks on a beach are things that continue to haunt the victims, and myself long after the attack is over. The people that tell me they’ll probably avoid France on their Europe trip are also victims of terrorism.
By being fearful, we allow terrorism to complete its main goal, while harming the vast majority of cities that depend on tourism for their economies to survive. It’s important to mention that many major broadcasts about the attack in Nice failed to display the love, support, and strength the French and tourists alike showed for each other and the country right after it happened, which isn’t unusual when terrorism occurs.
Nice. A city a where a stranger will openly tell you how beautiful you are. A city where you can dance until 5 in the morning, drinking some of the best wine, only to finish the night with a swim in the warm, Mediterranean Sea. A city I wish everyone has the opportunity explore and experience, and a city I will continue to explore, fearlessly.