I was just about to close my laptop in a really cozy hotel room in Valencia, Spain, after what I thought was a really exhausting day, when my Twitter feed started going mental. The effect of the shootings at the Bataclan, the restaurant on Rue Bichade and the bar near Stade de France became bloodier with each breaking news push notification that made it onto our phone screens. 130 lives. 368 people injured.

Back at work in the newsroom on Monday, you could see if on everyone’s face. If correspondents didn’t fly out to Paris, they stayed up for ridiculous hours to try and make sense of what doesn’t and never will make any sense: the senseless killing of people, innocence and culture. Since then, very few news stories didn’t contain the line “following the Paris attacks…“.

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For me personally, terror after Paris doesn’t feel “closer”, “everything” hasn’t changed for me because I’ve lived in Lebanon, I have seen faces that were changed by having to witness war and death. My friends lived through attacks in Serbia, Israel, London. And some of my friends came to Berlin seeking refuge and escaping the looming fear that there may not be so many more tomorrows if they stay in Tunisia or Syria.

Obviously, Travelettes isn’t a news site, it’s got nothing to do with foreign policy or security matters (and thank God for that!), but what happens in al Raqqa, Beirut, Baghdad – and now Paris concerns us all. And that’s not because of the US just issued a travel warning for pretty much the whole world. It’s because of something deeper.

Later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
Where does it hurt?

It answered

(Warsan Shire)

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The terror threat is real and we can do very little to prevent it from hitting home. But apart from being a war against liberté, égalité, fraternité, this is also a war against culture. It’s a war against long nights in clubs, against good music and better food. It’s a war against adventure, against high heels, against peaceful strolls on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a war against the lightness of being young, of being old, of being careless and happy. It’s a war against all the little details that make our lives worth living. Lives that would lose a lot of flamboyance and joy if they become undermined by fear. “When are they coming to get us? When will it hit my mother, the man I love or the children that aren’t even born yet? Will I even make it to 70?”

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Here’s the thing. Don’t let that happen. Don’t let the images from Beirut, al Raqqa, Paris, Brussels or whatever city is closest to you do that to you.

Grieve, mourn for the dead and mourn for all the dreams and hopes that have been buried, whether they made headlines and became front page news or not. Pray for them, or maybe don’t pray for them. Read the news. Be informed. Don’t believe all the bullshit and the black and white reporting that is everywhere these days. Don’t let anyone create false fronts or a toxic us-against-them mentality when it’s about refugees. We’re in this together, and we all have this one shot at life, not matter how long it will last for. Stay wild and stay mad, but most of all: stay free, don’t let your mind be put in chains by fear.

All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt