On 4th November 1979 I was reading Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man when news of a hostage crisis was breaking: a group of Iranian students had stormed the US Embassy in Tehran.
Thirty-six years later, on 13th November 2015, I was reading the same book when news of terrorist attack on Paris was just breaking. And I’m thankful for the reading on both occasions – hope for all of us, then and now:
A universal love is not only psychologically possible; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love …
If there were no internal propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level — indeed in the molecule itself — it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, with us, in hominid form … Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Le Phénomène Humain, 1955
So we keep seeking. And along the way “free hugs” are offered, and gladly received, in the Place de la République and elsewhere, all around the globe. Hope is not dead wheresoever within le phénomène humain there exists a “propensity to unite”. The impossibly heavy burdens and responsibilities carried by governments, presidents and prime ministers will forever need to be supplemented by the equally vital and necessary leadership that exists in the heart of ordinary humankind, never too cowed to risk reaching out, offering comfort in public space to any and all in need of it.