On Feeling Safe

Sonia Kruger wants to feel safe.

And there is nothing wrong with this. It’s what we all want isn’t it? To feel safe and free to go about our lives, in relative peace. To enjoy the freedom to say what we want, to believe what we want. To live in the cities, the countries of our own choosing.

As Australians we’ve enjoyed an abundance of this particular brand of freedom.

The lucky country.

I’m an Australian who lives in Paris.

Who lived through Charlie Hebdo and the November mass shootings. Whose colleagues were in the airport at Brussels, whose friends were in the crowd in Nice.

It has become, if not normal, no longer exceptional to wake to a Facebook prompt to mark ourselves as safe. To be patted down at the entry to theatres. To place candles at the Place de la Republique.

I didn’t enter the fanzone in front of the Eiffel Tower during the Euro 2016. Because I didn’t feel safe. Not from the threat of a terrorist attack, but from everyday soccer hooligans. Drunk, (white or otherwise) Europeans passionate about their ‘team’.

I didn’t go to the fireworks on the 14th of July because I was hungover, and venturing too far from my sofa is what seemed most perilous.

Australia is the fifteenth safest country in the world according to the Global Peace Index. France sits at number 46.

And yet, in a world where nightclubs and theatres, café terraces and seaside promenades have become killing fields, and white delivery trucks weapons of mass destruction: feeling safe remains a choice.

For the record, the things that make me feel the least safe in 2016:

  1. The possibility of a Trump Presidential term
  2. The support for Brexit
  3. The popularity of Marine Le Pen
  4. Pokemon GO players

Stopping Muslim immigration to Australia (or France, for that matter) does no more than breed hate and suspicion and fear and create divisions in a time where, more than ever, we need unity.

I respect your right to speak freely, Sonia, and I understand your fear. But this is not the solution. Perpetuating hatred and practicing selective exclusion, are never the solution.

Let’s work together and find something that is.

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