There's a lot happening in the world today. A terrible civil war in Syria has led to instability and refugees fleeing to Europe. European countries are reacting with various levels of openness and comfort to this stress on their economic and social support systems. A brutal terrorist organization that I will hereafter refer to in this blog as the "evil empire" (because I don't want to dignify their terrorism by calling them by the name they've chosen for themselves) has taken to slaughtering people in Iraq and Syria, and instigating terror attacks around the planet.
Recently followers of the evil empire instigated a heartbreaking terrorist attack (or series of them) in Paris, France. I was driving home, exhausted, on a dark Friday night - so glad to be picking up my children from school. Listening to NPR, it took me several moments to register what had happened - that there had been a hostage situation in a nightclub, that there had been a suicide bombing outside of a soccer stadium (intended for the stadium). That there had been a restaurant shot up, where an American had been celebrating her birthday. At first they said over 160 people were dead, and later adjusted those figures down.
In that silent car, as I sat waiting to walk through the crisp early evening air to get my children from the brightly lit schoolroom where they were waiting for me... I shed a few tears and said a prayer for the people of Paris.
We were just there. Just a few months ago, SO enjoying the bakeries and sidewalk cafes, the romance of the tiny streets and larger parks. Loving the way women on bicycles called out French greetings to shopkeepers who waved and smiled in return. Loving our easy walk to the Tour Eiffel. And while there were certainly hordes of scam artists at the train station trying to give us a bum deal on a taxi to our little hotel, we left with a good taste in our mouths and the hope that this year, we would finally show Senor Danger (the good guy) how amazing Paris can be.
Before all of this, we'd essentially decided to move to Spain for the year abroad. Now I'm seriously considering a few small, lovely towns in Mexico too.
Spain and France share a common border and a similar proximity to the Mediterranean. Not only are they impacted by the refugee crisis but the evil empire has stated in writing that they'd love to retake 'Iberia'. Borders are so loose in that region, we've experienced it ourselves! You can drive between Spain and France in minutes without any checkpoint at the northern border of Spain - and the only way you'll know the country has changed is that the SIM card in your French or Spanish cell phone suddenly no longer works.
It is very easy for me to understand how terrorists can travel with ease around Europe right now. I also understand why NPR is reporting that borders may need to be closed.
Terrorism is happening all over the world, and violent gun deaths happen most frequently here in the United States. I get it. As a mother and a teacher, I cringe every time there is a school shooting in America. (We all do.) I still feel safe here though. I love my country and I'm proud of it. I guess it's easier to live with the problems you know than with the problems you don't know and can't completely wrap your head around.
That said, life is for the living and we don't want to make decisions out of fear. So... as a family we begin our investigation for real! Mexico, or Spain? Today I will buy the airplane tickets for the journeys that will help us to decide.