When you first visit Nice and come out onto the Promenade des anglais, three things strike you – the impossible blue of the sea and the sky and the palm trees. Miles of promenade and a pebbly beach, with the old town, market and flower market – a joy of smells and tastes. The painter Raoul Dufy celebrated the colours.
So how to respond to such terrible news? Sadness of course, prayers and thoughts for the families involved. But we also need to respond to this culture of death. Somehow get to the young men before they are radicalised, come down hard on the people who are trying to manipulate them. These young men have families, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters; we need to include them in the conversation. Above all avoid the culture of blame and recrimination.
And even more than that, celebrate life itself. They would have us live in fear, be at war with our neighbours, cause division and strife. For fundamentally they are against life – the life that goes out with a family to watch the fireworks, the life that has a meal on the beachfront with friends, the life that celebrates liberty, egality and fraternity. The BBC proms got it right too, playing the Marseillaise at the opening last night.
We understand that they want to destroy our culture of life and celebration, but in the face of such great tragedy we must remain firm in our resolve to live and love. So we live, we love and we celebrate this precious life.