Solidarit, Solidarity, Solidaridad: United in Any Language
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
At the bank Monday afternoon, the teller asked if I was going to participate in the demonstrations on Tuesday. Who, “moi?” I was so surprised she asked! “I’m too old…I’m an American…and I’m an employer!” was my first response. Her retort — “But you should…for the ‘solidarité!’”
The word struck a chord for the first time, even though in France, you may hear it said more often than “liberté,” “égalité” or “fraternité.” I heard it several more times on Tuesday, but within a completely different context.
While the protestors where gathering at Place d’Italie and other parts of France to begin their show of strength and “solidarité,” I was among a select group of a few hundred people, mostly from the Spanish community, to warmly welcome King Juan Carlos I and his Queen Sofia of Spain at an official reception hosted by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and other city officials in the Salle des Fêtes at the Hôtel de Ville.
Europe has tremendous respect for Juan Carlos. On November 22, 1975, two days after the death of Francisco Franco, he was designated King according to the law of succession promulgated by Franco and successfully oversaw the transition of Spain to a democratic constitutional monarchy, vowing to re-establish democracy and be “King of all Spaniards, without exception.”
Juan Carlos, born in Rome in 1938, also claims the title of King of Jerusalem, as the successor to the royal family of Naples and is a direct descendant of the United Kingdom’s Queen Victoria through his grandmother Victoria Eugenie, and Louis XIV of France through the House of Bourbon. In 1962, the dashing Spanish royal married Princess Sofia of Greece in the city of Athens.
Clearly, this royalist, is as much a European as a Spaniard. The delegation was gleaming with pride and respect. Mayor Delanoë spoke first, eloquently, with a translator repeating his words in Spanish. Juan Carlos followed suit, his words translated to French and both of them, perhaps without having preplanned it, spoke of “solidaridad” with France, with Spain, with Europe and the world.
Again, the word struck a chord. According to the Larousse dictionary, solidarity means having a fellow-feeling for, an interdependence, meshing, locking or interlocking. This sentiment comes from a people who also proudly display their individualism. The incongruities of this society once again manifested themselves, this time on the streets with a record number of protestors, reaching almost one million!
In the grand ballroom at the Hôtel de Ville, with its elaborately painted ceiling, gilded appointments, crystal chandeliers and massive mirrors, one would never have suspected unrest outside its stone walls. As the King, Queen and Mayor left their regal chairs on the platform and worked slowly through the admiring crowd, they shook hands with their constituents who pushed their way to the front to get a glimpse and possibly even a hand shake or say a few words.
I’m beginning to fully understand what “solidarité” means to the French — how important it is to stand up for the cause, together, united — even if their individual ideas don’t concur. It’s the absolute foundation of their social democracy — to provide a high quality of life for all, not just for those who can afford it. In their minds, the new labor laws defeat this important go
For the French, a high quality of life is not what money can buy, it’s what money can’t buy. And isn’t that why some of us are here? Perhaps I should have shown my solidarity, just as the teller thought I should, in spite of my individual ideas that don’t agree.
A la prochaine…
P.S. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Sunday night’s Paris Soirées where I will be speaking about New Orleans After Katrina and the upcoming Après Midi on April 11th. Visit today’s Community Calendar for more information: /parlerparis/calendar.html
The ending went to the dogs. That was when Hat (Harriet) Sternstein, American proprietor of “Mon Bon Chien,” the gourmet pet bakery, which was featured this past weekend in the International Herald Tribune, agreed to make a special surprise appearance just before the closing of the Living and Investing in France Conference, to deliver her message: “If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.”… FPI Subscribers Read On…
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* Excerpt from the Writers Insider Guide to Paris…
An efficient way to introduce oneself to literary Paris is to take a guided tour. Many of the following tours are literary focused but also cover French writers and other artists of the periods such as dancers, jazz musicians, and painters not covered in the history section above. Good deals are marked with an asterisk (*).
* Bohemian Paris presented by Siren Song’s Tours: A one-and-half-mile walking tour through the Left Bank including recitations of writers’ works, gossipy anecdotes, and biographical tidbits. Limited to six participants. Led by Gentry Lane, an American expatriate writer, scholar and expert in Modernist Literature and Art. Tour participants also receive an annotated reading list with the addresses of all Anglophone bookshops in Paris… For complete details and more great tours, see the guide….
Novelists, journalists, poets, dreamers and doers…discover the writing life in Paris. It is possible, click here to find out how….
* Getting a mortgage in France is easier than you think…let us show you how. /frenchproperty/insider/mortgage.html
* Subscribe to the Parismarais monthly newsletter free…The Art of Living Guide to Le Marais. Hurry — the next issue is April 1! http://www.parismarais.com/parismarais-newsletter.htm
* Writing From the Imaginative Storm… A creative writing workshop that crackles with passion, fun, and spontaneity. Facilitated by poet, James Navé, Sponsored by Parler Paris. Space is limited to 30, first come, first served.
April 8, 2006, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais, 96, rue des Archives at the corner of rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers
Cost: 30 euros in cash at the door, and plan on ordering at least one drink. Note: Bring pen and paper. For more information and to reserve your place before it’s too late, email James Nav at [email protected]
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Parler Paris Après Midi
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“Solidarit, Solidarity, Solidaridad: United in Any Language”
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