Wednesday’s lethal attack in Paris on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that killed ten journalists and two policemen, with 10 more injured left me shocked. As we are all planning our glorious 2015, feeling all optimistic and full of plans, this atrocity happens. Dark cloud is hanging over Europe and the world. This dark cloud, I feel, will stay with us for a long time.

As a wedding planner in South Africa, I felt the need to be neutral around issues such as race, culture, politics and religion. After all, we are in a business of making people happy and earning money whilst people are partying. Many think of us as frivolous, ditzy, shallow and living in the alternative realities. Maybe I speak for myself, but I live in the real world. I pay close attention to the economy, exchange rates and current affairs because I know these matters have a direct impact on my wedding business. I had the privilege of meeting and working for the newsmakers of this country. I have planned weddings for various racial and religious groups. We do not discuss current affairs, religion or racism, but I get to hear things.

A wedding brings out the best in people, right? The best of their religion and culture is displayed, worshipped and celebrated. Any wedding professional who sat through Catholic Mass rehearsals and actual Catholic wedding mass knows word for word the message of love, peace and forgiveness. I have done Christian, Muslim and Jewish weddings and cross Religious wedding too, and the message of love and peace is always there. And yet, this morning Twitter is abuzz with how we are in a religious war. I will be honest, I have felt the ripples of religious, racial and political conflict in my dealing with clients over the past 12 months – nothing overt, rather subtle and definitely present. Some comments send shivers down my spine, but hey I am just a wedding planner so I put my head down and got the job done. I am now ashamed of this.

As a wedding planner, I get to know the families really well. I get to understand their story and on the wedding day, I get to see their happiness. Over the years, I got to be a part of a bright and happy chapter in the lives of many couples. Today, as I am sitting at my computer staring blankly and trying to plan weddings everything seems redundent, I cannot help but think of all the families who lost their loved ones. The tight knot in my chest gets tighter as I get empathic surge of their loss and shock, their anger and grief…

To quote Daily Maverick: “The media murder spree in Paris that left the world speechless took the lives of a dozen innocents. But it was not only an attack against people and the idea of freedom of speech, it was also a lethal shot at the idea of civilisation itself”. We live in the world where terrible things happen. Yet we have to carry on, we have to try harder to be better – every one of us, every single day. #JeSuisCharlie –  rest in peace all those who perished in the senseless attack, my thoughts are with their families in this dark hour and my appeal to world is not to give in to the mass hysteria. Let us not blame a religion for this, but find murders who are responsible for this atrocity.  At the same time, let us not ignore the sly remarks, jabs and fibs and stand up to those who use religion to justify their arguments and promote self serving agendas and help bring the new age of enlightenment, tolerance and peace.

Je suis Charlier


Image: Lucille_clerc “Break one, thousands will rise”



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