Paris (UK: /ˈpærɪs/ parr-iss; US: /ˈpɛərɪs/ pair-iss; French: [paʁi] ) is the capital of France. The City of Paris has an area of 105 square kilometres (41 square miles for those not familiar with the by now widely spread metric system) and has a population of 2M people within its city limits. The Paris Region covers 12K square kilometres (4.5K square miles), and has a population over 12 million people. Roughly the same size as Belgium (that other city just north of Paris) or a good two million more as the total headcount of Sweden (the larger Stockholm Region by comparison is half the size of Paris, and has a sixth of the population, a good two million including yours truly).
Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name (and not after Paris Hilton as some may believe). By the 12th century, Paris was the largest city in the western world, a prosperous trading centre, and the home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century, it was the centre stage for the French Revolution, and became an important centre of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts, a position it still retains today.
Paris is the home of the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre, as well as some other big names like the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée National d’Art Moderne. The most notable architectural landmarks of Paris include Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914) to name just a few.
Paris is not only the city of light and a romantic destination for many tourists around the globe, it is also the place where I first met my soulmate some good twenty years ago. A city full of memories of old and new friends alike.
So, when I woke up on Saturday and got greeted with a FB safety check that some of my friends in Paris checked in safely, it became instantly clear that disaster had struck in the centre of a city that is dear to me. Not a natural disaster inflicted by the whimsical moods of Mother Nature, but one inflicted by mankind.
A terror attack just one day after the terrible bombing in Beirut.
Sad, meaningless, just a total waste of energy.
Is humanity in the twenty first century not grown beyond those barbaric acts our human history is known for ? Did we not grew up and learned from the past ?
The Celts, the Aztecs, The Dark Ages, Nazi Germany, Stalin, … they all had their dark spot to say the least, but humanity ploughed forward, and one could only have dreamed we were seriously moving to a flat world, a world where humanity works together to solve the challenges of the 21st century and generations to come.
A world where we have to take global decisions together on our climate in just a few weeks, in that same city of light. Agree on how we can save our planet before we do unrecoverable damage that puts an end to humanity, full stop. Not just the left or the right, the north or the south, the east or the west. The full planet, all of us. Game over for species Homo Sapiens.
But it is not just us who can harm our little habitat here (although we do have a very good track record of being destructive), there is a long list out there of what can and will go wrong in the future and we have enough challenges to conquer and give our species a change of survival (if you wonder why Zurple and Quignee are keeping a close eye on Elon Musk and his Space X program, check out this awesomely inspiring blog).
Enough challenges ahead of us from a simple accidental asteroid to artificial super intelligence. We should not be shooting and blowing up people on a Friday evening (on no evening for that matter).
I am sad, and angry, and feel kind of helpless. Helpless we are not moving as humanity in the right direction of the bigger picture (which goes way beyond us as a species) and are still stuck in meaningless terror and violence.
I am sad, but at the same time resolved.
I cannot build a rocket to Mars or code a conscience into A.I. but I can speak up for our species in my work, in my photography.
Make sure I share the message of hope and inspiration.
Of building an intergalactic species that is known for its science and arts, just like the city of light. A species that believes in toys and imagination, in creativity and equality.
I hope my great grand children will look back and still find some inspiration in our generation.
I for sure will leave them my photography and hope it will inspire their children to look back at the past and smile on these whimsical great grandparents that took their toys to places to inspire creativity.
Paris, Beirut, Planet Earth, I Luv Ye.