I claim no special knowledge nor indeed wisdom. But I do want to make a few observations while events are still unfolding.
Inevitably, the initial coverage focused on the fear factor. Would they strike again? We saw something similar with 9/11. Then came the inevitable question, what went wrong. How do we prevent this happening again? And then came to positive rallying words.
major bombings that took place during the what has been called the Northern Ireland troubles.
I am not comparing these events directly with with the Paris events. Neither side in the Northern Ireland troubles normally aimed to kill the maximum possible number of civilians. Rather, I would make two points. The first is that, finally, the Northern Ireland troubles came to an end. The second is that life went on regardless.
The Brighton Hotel bombing came very close to killing Prime Minister Thatcher and her husband. However, life went on. The fear factor did not seem as great as it is today.
I am not sure why this should be the case. The twenty four hour media cycle is more intense now. Western society has become more risk averse and indeed somewhat less tolerant of difference. These things help explain the apparent change, but are not (to my mind) a sufficient explanation. Recognising that there is a chicken and egg problem, which came first, a key problem would seem to be the shift in rhetoric and perception that flowed from 9/11 and the War on Terror.
This leads me to my core concern, the way in which official responses to current terrorism events are progressively eroding tolerances and attitudes that we have taken for granted.
Birmingham pub bombings killed 21 people and injured 182 others. Like the current Paris attacks, the bombings targeted innocent civilians. The rush for justice that followed led to the wrongful conviction in 1975 of what became known as the Birmingham Six. It would be 1991 before the convictions were quashed.
We have already seen how the War on Terror has led to polarisation and injustice that of itself has fed back through a vicious circle into the creation of that which was most feared, a genuine war of terror. There has been a kind of moral funk in the West, an unwillingness to accept the costs that can follow from genuine adherence to liberal principles, that has begun to undermine the very principles on which liberal democratic societies are based.
I guess that's my real worry from Paris. What lesson or lessons are we all, governments included, going to draw? And what will it cost us?