I desperately want to see the good in people and the good in the world. I need it to be safe as my arms for my children and the protection of my classroom walls for my pupils can only stretch so far. I hope this post is causes no offence or harm. I just hope it makes you thankful for your lot in life. I know I am.
Why do we insist on ignoring what stares us in the face? The suicidal fanatics who threaten to kill us in the name of their perverted brand of Islam are not refugees from Syria, or deranged zealots from the mountains of Pakistan: they are, with only very few exceptions, men and women who were born in our hospitals, educated in our schools and who grew up in our cities... Many of the attackers were already known to the police. Some had records as petty criminals. Others had clear links to identifiable terrorist groups. So as we still struggle to comprehend the crime that was committed in Paris last Friday night, perhaps we should start by examining what is going on under our noses.
I have a confession to make. I'm tired. Tired of rebutting the same old clichés and contradictions that you and your rabid CAPS LOCK brigade constantly spout every time something like the awful events in Paris last week occur. So I've decided to do us both a favour and bring a dispel a few of those repetitive falsehoods you're so fond of.
Isis want to be the caliphate - the crusading home for Muslims fleeing the injustice of the West. Instead the opposite is happening. Europe is providing safe haven to Muslims persecuted by Isis brutality... This is a battle against totalitarianism, a battle for our values, and a battle for hearts and minds. Isis seeks to cow us and to divide us. Each time extremists have tried before to spread fear and hatred in Europe, they have failed and our continent has stood firm. We need to stand firm once again - that means supporting security, solidarity and sanctuary too.
My student years in Paris defined who I am today. The streets harboured my surreptitious kisses, those terraces hosted my tears after failed exams and my laughter with my friends who teased me about my Russian accent in French. I wasted my student stipend on Pierre Hermé macaroons consumed between lectures on a random bench at St Germain. It was with a view of the Tour Eiffel that I started my first ever internship at Radio France.
A day of discussion yielded that plan in the form of the second Vienna statement, as well as agreement on an International Syria Support Group which would drive the plan forward. Nothing in this world is perfect. Critics have lined up and will continue to do so to pick holes in the plan and tear it down (that's what they do after all). But I think it's good, and here's why.
The images of the horrific events in Paris on Friday night have been splashed over the front covers of all the newspapers and on an almost continuous loop on TV news channels. As parents we have been facing a barrage of questions from our children - scared children - and it is difficult to know how to answer them and to reassure them.
A social media campaign has been launched to get Eagles of Death Metal's cover of Duran Duran's Save a Prayer to Number 1 in the UK charts. Just a few weeks previously both bands had performed the track together on TFI Friday. Organisers say they aim to show solidarity against terrorism, support all affected in France and across the world, and highlight the will for peace.