As the parents of young children, we happened to be awake on and off through the night last Friday. As we repeatedly cajoled our youngest back to sleep in the early hours, our phones lit up with notifications of the confusing breaking news from the Paris attacks; the steadily climbing death toll and eye witness accounts. With each visit to our daughters room to resettle her, we read the snipets of news and our hearts broke for the lives lost and families destroyed by these senseless, murderous acts. My thoughts turned to the newly bereaved parents as I tucked my daughter into her warm, safe, bed and thanked my blessings.
Terrorism is nothing new, unfortunately we've been here before. The shock and awe of violence against innocent people designed to make us afraid and feel terrorised. Wonderful people and innocence lost because someone, who had no right, deemed their lives insignificant and forfeit.
Our countries - those who have endured these indiscriminate attacks - are unified in that our democracies and policies, though far from perfect, belong to a people who genuinely care for the sanctity of life. We don't turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, we promote tolerance, inclusion and freedom. Whilst we may not always achieve our lofty aims, and indeed have some distance to cover, as a majority, we strive to go in the right direction.
This is my belief. For all our mistakes, I believe the majority of people in this world are good. I want to teach my children to believe in the goodness of mankind, an increasingly difficult lesson to deliver at times such as these.
Where there is good, why must there be evil? This evil seeks to terrorise and inflict fear; if I'm honest, I worry they are succeeding in many ways.
I'm duly afraid...for us all.
Powerful and inspiring messages from around the world tell us to be brave, stand together and not to let the actions of a few extremists diminish the freedoms we hold so dear.
Time and again we have seen the bravery of nations after the atrocities of terrorism; New Yorker's proudly rebuilding their city sky line after 9/11, Londoners who refused to cower after the devastation of the 7th July bombings and now the French, united in their grief but defiant in their desire to be brave in the face of mounting adversity.
I want to be brave too. I want to show my daughters the necessary strength we all must possess to fight the kind of ideology that would promote such violence. There is no religion here - no God, Deity or Prophet that would sanction such destruction of life, only the twisted souls of men who seek power and control.
I want to be brave, but I know that I'm not. The terrorists want us to be afraid; I fear I've allowed them a small victory in my heart because I'm truly afraid - and my actions are beginning to reflect my fears.
Over the last few years my previously general dislike of flying has become an all-out fear. No longer am I afraid of simple mechanical failure, I'm now gripped with the very real notion that planes have been and can be brought down. I've systematically avoided entering subways in London, New York and Paris. My generalised anxiety is at odds with the life myself, and my family, want to live, so in that sense, I've allowed myself to become restricted and terrorised, just as they wish me to be.
I can't ignore the truth. In today's world there are people out there who would do my children harm. My maternal desire to protect (along with a hefty dose of maternal anxiety) overrides the bravery I so want to display.
Our eldest daughter is old enough to recognise the images of war on the news. We try to explain the concepts of conflict in a gentle way, emphasising that these heartbreaking scenes are not here and that she is safe. Having been to Paris though, she recognises that this is different, this is closer. We've just had to explain the actions of terrorism in a city she loves to visit - attempting to make these scenes intelligible to an eight year old only serves to highlight the insanity from which they were born. The senselessness of it all.
I tell my daughter that we're safe, but deep down I know that we're not above the fray. While this evil persists, we're no more safe than those innocent people enjoying the Parisian night.
I want to be brave. I don't want to be terrorised or to allow my children's lives to be restricted. I want to stand with those who show we will never give up our freedoms because of an insanity propagated by evil, but that is easier said than done - keeping fear from our hearts is going to be half the battle.