muses on recent events


I have been trying to make sense of what happened in Paris last week: to understand why people who have no connections with France whatsoever, would decide to add the French flag’s colours over their profile photos on social media. I wondered, what drove that behaviour, why did people follow that trend, what were they thinking? Why have I not done so? What was behind my reticence?

2001, I was studying in Paris on an exchange year. 9 – 11 happened. Being a major in international law and international relations, I remember being at the university, discussing with professors about terrorism, the world stage and all those grand International Relations theories.

Tonight, I had just come home from a Sciences Po alumni event, where obviously, being a French political sciences institution, we discussed the recent developments in the world. I had never gone to any alumni gatherings before, and I was not sure what made me decide to go tonight.

I did not stay long. I felt uncomfortable at the cocktail reception — not least because I realized the extent of my dilapidated French. I smiled and nodded at whatever anyone said, half comprehending, half pondering. What was that tug of apprehension?

After I got home, I sat at my desk and stared at the blank computer screen. The word “SHAME” floated across the black veneer. I was embarrassed at myself.

In 2001, I only knew how to “discuss” these acts of terrorism. Yet, now, 14 years later, that’s all I did again at the same school’s events. I was thinking only about what we should do, how to analyse the issue, find out why there were such misunderstandings

But I had not asked myself, “What can I do for the world?”

On a tangent, I remembered my university ambition of becoming an international lawyer — working as an intern at the International Criminal Court was by far the most fulfilling job I had ever done. A sense of bringing justice and building a new future in the world despite only a few months at The Hague. But, where did I go after that?

A shame that I had only been concerned with my own plights, an embarrassment for not having done more within the realms of my abilities.

This is my muse for the night: What can I do for the world?


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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.