Having stayed in Paris of a couple of months, one of the things in Paris which always caught my attention is: at Champs-Elysées, there are not only luxury shops and visitors, but the place is also frequently colored and flourished with endless protesters for fighting for different issues. For example, I have seen protests for women rights, protecting the environment, enhancing education systems, also anti-rise of the tax. The transportation is sometimes in chaos because of the protests; however, it doesn’t bother me at all. Instead of being frustrated with many metro stations stopping in weekends, I am actually wandering my mind to think about what is the reason for triggering such numerous protests in Paris – when I need to switch the route for my direction.
I am always curious about why some protests can last for a very long time – for example, the Mouvement des gilets jaunes has already been almost half a year, and it is sure to keep going on in the future. And all my curiosity of these protests keeps reminding me the national motto of France: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: These three worlds we can see it everywhere in Paris, especially on historical architectures, universities, or governmental offices. In my very own mind, I consider the motto has influenced the protests nowadays, for example, liberty.
What is the liberty I experienced in Paris? What is different about this France liberté than anything I have in my home country? My answer would be the liberty in Paris is untamable. The liberty of being yourself, stay true to yourself, lies in the value of France since ancient times. During student life in Paris, I realized from many aspects that having critical thinking and independent thinking is crucially important. Despite this idea is cliché, I found out the liberty in my country and Paris is a little bit different. The liberty I have experienced is more tamed and conservative, although we are free for expressing our opinion, however, we care a lot of the viewpoints from others. We wanted to be accepted and be part of a big team, therefore sometimes people will be too conscious in expressing their true selves. However, what I have experienced in Paris is that the atmosphere is safe for people to be different, so people are willing to stand up for their thoughts and could possibly change the society. Even in minor change, it is a change.
For me, the liberty spirit I experienced in this city, is also a reason why Paris is always blossoming with novel thoughts and creativity. Dare to think, dare to speak. I am practicing this boldness in Paris, and I knew, deep in my heart, this will have a lifetime influence on me.
Written by Chih-Yi CHIU, TBS Paris Campus