Agnès Certain, teacher of Methodology in the Institut Politique Léon Harmel in Paris and enrolled in a doctorate course in Sophia, speaks about the relationship between physiopathology and natural law, and reflects on what happened during and after the tragic attacks in the French capital.
“Ten days have passed since the attacks in Paris on 13 November, and I still strongly feel an intertwining of sentiments that shook me in those dramatic hours. I was shocked upon seeing what had happened and was filled with questions on the reasons behind it, as a new view of reality started to dawn on me.
Out of the blue, all those young people were dead, fear haunted the streets, defending oneself was impossible and so was understanding the reason for all this. I was really shocked….. and at the same time I immediately saw the rise of numberless gestures of goodness, in response to the violence in those streets: it was like the swift sprouting of something new and unexpected. Men and women who carried the wounded to safety, took personal risks, opened the doors of their homes, signaled out the safe places, and donated blood in the hospitals… there were so many of them.
We were contemplating another reality – this is what struck me – something very different from what we had been doing in our usual daily routines for some time. It was as if there had been a “virtual” space and time until then, in which we moved around day by day while what had violently taken hold of our lives was paradoxically “reality” that finally made us come together.
The gestures of giving concrete actions of support, which were heroic at times, the signs and words of help, or reciprocity for the good that I saw, spontaneously multiplied all around, creating new bonds mostly between strangers who seemed to come from an almost unknown force, and that emerged hour after hour, expressing care for the other. The concrete choice was much more than an emotional one, and which imposed itself, in response to the brutal affirmation of violence that had lacerated our fragile coexistence.
If what happened was reality, I asked myself about the quality of the life we are conducting, in which we content ourselves, mostly in living solitary lives, closed up in a perspective void of relationships, thinking that this is the measure of man. On the bus, in the subway but also at work, or in the cinema… the other person is virtual, an abstraction – there are no relationships if not for the temporary ones of fear and annoyance.
These days we have experienced, in a very vicious and yet touching manner, that there is another reality, that life is a gift: and in accepting it we are totally involved, and it unites us, opening our eyes to the others in a deep outgoing way. Since humaneness which gives meaning to our days is a relationship of love which expresses itself, I would dare to say that it imposes itself, in an explosive way in which the presence of the other is so concrete as to break into the void of ordinary relationships to which we have become accustomed, as if they were normal, while they are not at all so.
It is as if our gaze and the gesture toward the other have again become real and natural, when we finally lower the infinite barriers we have raised between us. And this relationship restores us to ourselves and to reality, where relationships consist in concrete facts, intense with humane qualities and values.
In this new space, pain occupies a special place, almost as if it were a door that obliges us to go where we find the men and women, our brothers and sisters, who are concretely by our side, far from every abstract virtual reality. So when we feel less humane, it is because we have “erased” the other, the others, from our world, while in fact, their place is always to stand before us and in us, involving and calling out to us, giving consistency and value to our existence.
All this echoed inside me precisely in that moment when we all felt the fragility of our lives abandoned in the hands of others. I would like to never forget it: in the face of our total vulnerability, I understood that it is the universal bond of mutual love that makes us living persons.”