St-Germain-en-Laye, a city to the west of Paris, takes itself seriously in a very bourgeois sort of way. It abounds in artisan shops featuring expensive foodstuff and the clothing stores are markedly upscale. Its castle was one of the principal residences of the kings of France until Versailles was built (Louis XIV was born there). Now housing the Musée d’archéologie nationale, it has retained its stiff look.
The triweekly street markets are lush with gorgeous produce. Beyond the humongous and perfectly spherical globe artichokes, the glistening fish, the fantastic variety of cheeses and the faux-provençal table linen, numerous merchants cater to a bargain-hunting yet stylish crowd and it is fun to just look around. Still the streets are full of sternly coiffed matrons in camel-hair coats wielding fierce umbrellas and I wouldn’t call St-Ger (as it is familiarly referred to locally) the land of fantasy.
So imagine my surprise when, a couple of years ago, I glimpsed a canopy bed peacefully floating on one of the basins in the gardens surrounding the palace. It was so unexpected that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. (I later learned that it was part of a contemporary art exhibit).
The weather was cold but beautiful. The sky was a painter’s dream and I thought to myself, well, if it can happen here, anything can happen anywhere.
I have heard people say that there are too many guns in this country for gun violence ever to abate. There is no single and swift solution, true. But together we can implement a wide variety of measures that will start to make a difference.
My dream is that in 2016 there will be fewer empty chairs due to gun violence around our holiday tables. We owe it to all the innocents our country lost to gun violence over the years, including those killed in a mass shooting since last year’s New Year’s Eve. I believe that together we can do it.
Keep in mind that the empty chair could be your child’s or grandchild’s, your significant other’s, your mom’s or dad’s, your friend’s, or even yours. What could be more important?
Let it be our country’s first and foremost resolution for 2016.