March 2015
A duty to remember.

Murdered men, women and children. Thousands of other displaced people, fleeing to uncertain shores in a frantic quest for survival. Vestiges of Persia and Assyria’s ancient past, recently destroyed in the Iraqi city of Mosul, out of fanaticism and obscurantism. In these troubled times there is a long list of tragedies to describe a world where one has little idea of where it’s all heading, other than an unfortunate foreboding of still more tragedies to come, and not just related to climate.
Of course, France is a long way from these bloody confrontations that punctuate daily life so dramatically in a great many countries, although it is engaged militarily in certain parts of the globe. Our democracy is of ancient tradition and is founded on institutions that, at least in principle, work on a consensus basis. In that respect, they are the guarantors of social cohesion and of the republican pact binding each and every one of us in a community of inalienable values.
But are we really so removed from those appalling tragedies or do they not have something to do with the breaking up of societies devastated by religious or ethnic conflict, where peaceful coexistence is no more than a distant memory ? These countries are now paying a heavy price for not having managed to establish a democratic tradition in which freedom of expression had its rightful place. Unless blinded by ignorance or selfishness. There are worrying signs to indicate that our society is completely broken, such is the effect of a loss of economic and social standing for many of our citizens, driving them at best to disillusionment and at worst to distrust of and despair at our institutions.
The national story, as moulded by History, is no more. The great figures of the Republic have faded away, to be replaced by a kind of nondescript management discourse with which few people can identify ! The recent anti-Semitic acts, stigmatisation of Muslims, refusal to accept differences, and people’s withdrawal into their own community, are these not the signs of a society that is becoming devoid of meaning in a collective sense, and of a society in which a great many of our citizens no longer feel they have a proper place, in a decent life.
So who’d be surprised if they didn’t let themselves be taken in by the posturing of a few whose stock-in-trade consists of demagogic slogans and condemnation of all that is different, deceiving them by promising them a future they know full well cannot be as presented to the most destitute of people ?
We have a strong duty of remembrance, to remember every day and everywhere that lack of education, ignorance, eradication of the past, lowering of status, and fanaticism are the very seeds that lead our societies into chaos, as history has shown time and time again !
Of course, there is no comparison at all between the murders perpetrated in the name of a perversion of religion and the destruction of archaeological treasures, except the consideration that this concerns the same move to reject democracy in order to establish conformity of thought, under the aegis of which all doubt and debate would be forever ruled out !
We are the heirs of the Enlightenment and as such are compelled not just by a duty to remember but also a duty to uphold democratic values. Associations are at the forefront in this respect !
The President
Francis Bouten