There’s a lot of hate in the world right now; anger seems to fuel the news on a daily basis, and where once the world seemed to be growing closer, now, the divide feels stronger than ever before. At times likes this, it’s difficult to remember that hate only fuels hate, yet, last year, one man with more reason to hate than most, reminded us just why we shouldn’t.
There are only two of us – my son and myself – but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
On November 13th 2015, Helene Muyal-Leiris attended a concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, France, along with 1500 people. By the end of the night, 89 of those people were dead, Helene included, along with 41 others killed at other attacks across the city, in what was the deadliest attack on France since World War II.
Three days later, Helene’s husband, Antoine, wrote an open letter to his wife’s attacker in which he wrote, ‘You stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.’ That letter has since been shared over two hundred thousand times, and produced the title of his short memoir, detailing the days following the attack as he and his seventeen-month-old son, Melvil, tried to come to terms with their loss.
You Will Not Have My Hate is a heartbreaking read, but one which should be required reading for all of us, at a time when it’s difficult not to feel anger towards those who try to hurt us. As a result of the world we now live in, too many of us now know what it’s like to worry about whether a loved one is safe, those horrible moments of not knowing, the waiting that feels like it stretches on for years.
‘Waiting is a feeling without a name.’
It’s impossible to understand what it’s like when that waiting ends in bad news, yet Leiris’ writing opens a window into that horrific time, and allows us in. At times, it feels as if we are intruding on something we shouldn’t be allowed to see; moments which should remain private to only Antoine and his family, but in opening up about these moments, he teaches us that empathy comes not in anger at those who hurt others, but in being there for those who are hurt.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.