What to say?
Today I planned on blogging about Spoon University. A company that I am invested in led by two female founders who are smart, passionate and are building a smart business. Impressive for anyone to build but particularly impressive by their age. An upbeat exciting post.
This weekend is their annual event called Brainfood that brings people together around the intersection of food, technology media and entrepreneurship. A great line-up of speakers, panels, events and a party to kick it all off tonight. Tickets are still available.
Then last night we read with horror about Nice. I’m numb. We are all at a loss. Again? Why are people killing innocent people? Can this insanity be stopped? It isn’t so cut and dry like a war between two countries. The questions are endless.
The political winds in every country around the globe appear to be in a very strange place. The anger is everywhere. I am sure there will be multiple conversations at our house about this over the weekend and I am glad it is with young adults vs young children. How do you explain insanity to your young children?
We were strolling down that boulevard in Nice almost two years ago. My heart truly weeps for the families left behind who have to be asking themselves the same question as we are all asking ourselves…why, why, why?
Understanding the Why’s is important, and that doesn’t mean the answers justify the crime. We need to understand the reasons so we can deal with the sources of these issues.
Understanding the why is certainly the hardest part.
Their why? They hate Jews. They hate Israel. They hate Western Civilization. They hate Christians. Their mission. To destroy what they hate. I think it’s high time we in the US realized we are fighting a very different kind of war. This always happens. WW2 was not like WW1 in terms of tactics equipment etc. Vietnam was not like WW2. This war is a war which is winnable, but through strategies utilizing networks etc. The military plays a role-but this isn’t one where the people on our side have to be in uniform. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can eliminate them. FDR said it best, Unconditional surrender. How that happens is going to be messy.
I agree with the poignant feeling in your post, Joanne. My wife and I love Nice. We love France. We love walking along that boulevard. We have poignant memories of being in Nice a few years after we were first married and how romantic and wonderful everything was. Killings in these sweet spots seem even more brutal, much like the murder of children. But of course all these senseless killings are so just so numbing. I guess that pulls us back to work and words of Elie Wiesel, who recently died. I think he would say that in the face of these senseless acts we need to that much more to maintain our humanity, our sensibility. We need to combat going numb, or turning off, or being angry in that totally senseless way of extremists and terrorists. We need to persist in maintaining our passion and our sensitivity. But it is so endlessly sad, and so overwhelming sometimes……one just aches.
Dear Joanne,Your blog has been a welcomed resource for me, a member of Startup Chicks and The Professional Women’s Network where I do my best to share your sage advice. This blog is particularly touching as my family and I missed this horrific attack by 15 minutes; we don’t know why we were lucky but we do know this does not define our second home town Nice.My husband and our 17 year-old niece were on the beach for the fireworks. We had already walked along the Promenande previously as it was closed to cars. We enjoyed the festive spirit and felt completely safe, snapping selfies and speaking to locals.Little did we know that by being a bit fatigued and opting to go home just a few blocks in the other direction, we avoided the tragedy. When people started fleeing for no reason we were perplexed not hearing any unusual sounds. Then, my niece disappeared and we began to panic along with everyone else.She went towards the action and video-tapped the panic, still unaware of the gravity of the situation. My heart sank as I could not find her until I returned to our building for the third time to see her with my husband and safe; so many were not so lucky.Thank you for asking the question why are people killing innocent people.We can not make sense of the senseless and as I see my beautiful city mourn, my heart breaks for the victims. My greatest concern though is that the leaders of the world, whether they be political, national or religious are simply responding to the symptoms rather than the cause. What causes so much hate? How do we work with love to find a solution?There is more good in the world than evil but do we all really realize that fact given main-stream media and worldly powers who may use fear to advance their drive for control? Can we move forward fast enough as individuals and collective communities to make a difference sooner than later?In the last 46 hours my niece has been interviewed multiple times by media platforms all over the world because of her video and social media acumen (as so many teens possess). She is articulate, caring and concerned for others; she gives me hope for our future.Peace,Ella
The good news is you and your family are safe. Thanks for sharing this. My guess is the aftermath for you and particularly your niece will be larger than you think. It’s a fork in the road that you survived.You should keep a journal of your thoughts as they unroll over the next year. It might be helpful and certainly enlightening for others who unfortunately might find themselves in the same place as I don’t see this type of terrorism ending any day soon
Ella, thank you for sharing your story. As more and more people are affected by these events, it is good to share commonalities of experience. Joanne is so right in her comment. I had been one of the injured at the Boston Marathon bombing years ago, and money was raised that went to ongoing support of the victims. People (including me) were still feeling the aftereffects years after it happened. With each new terrorist attack, Boston Strong would reach out and say “we understand this may re-traumatize you, please reach out for support of the community if that is the case.” I wrote a little of my experience in hearing about Nice while being a terrorist attack survivor: https://goodmenproject.com/… (7 Things I Want to Say About Something I Don’t Have the Words For)
Such a great piece. You write with confidence and power after going through such a traumatic event. That positive writing must be comforting to the others that went through their own war.
Thanks Joanne.I believe in the importance and power of words, and in the ability of words to help us co-create a cultural narrative that leads to open-mindedness, collective intelligence, empathy and compassion.It got me thinking….I read your blog because….You are an investor, a woman, a change-maker, a mother, a social activist, a traveler, a foodie. Some of those things I have in common with you, some I don’t.And on one hand there are people who truly want polarization and isolation. They say “I have nothing in common with ‘those’ people.” On the other hand are people who strive for such unity that they see everything the same, or they don’t celebrate the differences. Or people who take other people’s experience and turn it into their own “Oh yes, my experience was EXACTLY like that.” When what would be more helpful, more interesting is the insights that come from knowing that your experience is never exactly the same as someone else’s.I think the richest people are the ones who can see both the commonalities and the differences in everyone they meet.
I am going to take a stab at the “why”. Not that I think I have all the answers—perhaps I have none of them—but after studying patterns of social behavior and cultural change for so many years, I can make some guesses that could lead to solutions.1) I think we can’t solve any one problem of the world—we have to solve all of them. It starts with racism and sexism and homophobia. Looking at the “why” of those is this idea of the “man-box”—social norms that pressure men to act and behave in a certain way. This version is way too short, but, among other things, men are culturally taught to be financial providers, control their emotions, chalk up their sexual conquests, and use violence to solve problems. Of course not all men, and of course the world is changing. But that change is happening too fast for many people to process. The result is “moral uncertainty”—everything they were taught about the world and their identity as a man is turned on its head. And there are few places men can talk about this change, because it is simply not encouraged in our society.2) I’ve also studied more specifically the patterns of mass shootings in the US since the start of them being tracked. 99% of those are by men. But the more interesting thing I found was that the shootings often occurred when the shooters *identity* as a man was threatened. Workplace shootings occurred when a man was deprived of his source of income (his identity as a financial provider). Many of the shootings occurred because of problems with women. Sometimes homophobia is the problem (Orlando being only one example). Look at the Dallas shooting—racial violence threatened the shooter’s identity as a black man until he “just snapped”. That is what I believe “just snapped” actually means—the threat to one own’s identity is so great that there seems to be no other outcome.3) In the case of this Nice attack—look beyond ISIS and the patterns remain the same. Accounts tell of a man who had abused his wife, she had moved out, he was financially unstable, an angry loner, marginalized and disenfranchised. The perfect target for a “quick radicalization”. A person who had difficulty making a life for himself as a man suddenly gets fast-tracked to be a martyr. Either that, or he “just snapped”.The solution, then, becomes one of understanding these deeply rooted patterns and giving men permission to open up and talk about these things. Allowing a sense of community and connection that goes way beyond the need to be a financial success, or sexual stud or lone cowboy. Add onto that better balance with education and look at the systems that create wealth inequality (I bet if you look closely at wealth inequality, you will see racism and sexism there too). None of this is that easy to change—of course not—-but it’s not impossible either. I am hopeful for the future.
I agree with you. Education, community, jobs are three areas that would hopefully change people (men) feeling threatened.
Dear Lisa,Thank you for sharing your experiences and excellent points. This conversation and these events remind me of Louise Richardson and her book What Terrorists Want, which should be required reading for all leaders.Peace,Ella