Twenty odd hours from Europe, that huge island in the Pacific that Australians call home seems often so vastly far away from the centre of world, and in a way it is.
When the inexplicable and horrible occurs those thousands of kilometres away, it is by all means shocking and awful but still remains just that: far away.
That geographical distance seems to create a barrier, to me at least, leaving me feeling somewhat removed from the chaos and fear that follows any attack on innocent lives.
The shocking and terrible series of attacks that unfolded in Paris last night were unfathomable to me. They would have been anywhere in the world, but they hit a closer chord as I'm currently living in France.
Practically speaking, a national state of emergency is alarming and something that only seems to happen in far off times or places, like WWII. It's surreal: getting messages from across the world to know if you are safe, checking friends are okay and all the while identifying the places attacked — the streets you’ve walked, restaurants you’ve passed and concerts you could by any means have been at.
Whilst I was physically safe, the feeling of being in one of those iconic, targetable cities of the world — New York, London or sadly once again Paris — identified in me a feeling of solidarity that surpassed any cultural or geographical boundaries. The eeriness of quiet streets in Paris and united cries of ‘vive la France’ in a vigil in London the night after speak of sombre reflection and the uneasiness of what is to come.
Suddenly, you’re far away from that insular — and maybe at times ignorant — big, safe island in the Pacific. You’re in Europe, and it’s not a European summer of partying or tourist selfies.
It is the Europe that is home to a huge mix of ethnicities, languages and religions.
It is the Europe that is currently facing a migrant crisis with no clear answer.
The homeless people you pass everyday, who represent the dire and increasing statistics of French homelessness and unemployment levels.
The shantytowns that seem like remnants of developing nations on the outskirts of the large cities or the makeshift refugee camps.
The world we live in today is alarming.
We see these atrocious attacks; the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians at the hands of extremists.
These individuals, who are by no means representative of religions or ethnicities, have become radicalised to the point of being capable of bloody and incomprehensible acts of violence.
But at the hands of these deadly fundamentalists we also see incredible solidarity. Between and across cultures, religions, nations and vast oceans, humanity can connect and see past differences.
Terrorism nags our conscience, the constant threat dividing society along lines of ideology, religion and culture. By no means is there an easy solution to such horrendous acts of terror, but there is the chance to create environments that foster harmony and peace.
So, whether you are religious or not, offer your form of peace, thought or prayer for Paris and the world, no matter how far away you are.
Give some of your consciousness to the atrocities that unfolded on November 13th, and let us hope that the world we live in can somehow see past difference and blame to find common solidarity in the one thing that connects us all: humanity.