There are many angry words and actions that have come out of the Paris Attacks, but this response is notable for its “tender aggression.” Antoine Leiris is defiant, but not retaliatory; he does not repay hate with hatred. He says at one point,
“If this God, for which you indiscriminately kill, made us in His own image, then every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound to His heart.”
I don’t know how Antoine knows this God who made us in His image, but he knows there is something inconsistent with “indiscriminately killing for Him,” and he knows the reality that every bullet in the body of his wife will have been a wound in heart of God.
Are you able to join Antoine in this prayer?
“You will not have my hatred”
On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional human being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t get my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for which you indiscriminately kill, made us in his own image, then every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound to his heart.
So no I don’t give you the gift of hate. You have tried hard to get it, yet to respond to your hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to look at my fellow citizens with suspicion and to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose. I get to play again.
I finally saw her this morning after days and nights of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left last Friday night, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love her more than 12 years ago. Of course I’m devastated with grief. I give you this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will continue to be with us every day and that we will find each other again in this paradise of free souls to which you will never gain access.
There are only two of us, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world. Now, I have no more time to spend on you. I must go to Melvil who is waking from his nap. Just 17 months old, he will eat his snack as he does every day, then he will play as he does every day. All his life this little boy will oppose you by living freely and happily. You will not get his hatred either.
Antoine Leiris wrote this in the wake of his wife’s death; Hélène Muyal-Leiris, a Parisian makeup artist, was one of the victims of the massacre at the Bataclan.
Here are Jesus’ words as the foundation for such a letter:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
One year later: Antoine Leiris says his grief is precious.