The Measure By Which We Define A Man

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This second entry, that is a follow-up to “The Nature Of Darkness And Light”, published on March 21st, has been written according to the emotions that were born after reading your comments… Thank you for the courage through which you exposed yourself in each of your reactions… Every single one of your words are precious to me… They are the very reason why I decided to write this second entry in French directly; it was important for me that it wouldn’t be the translation of a text written in English.

– Alex

As I was writing my blog, the search for the “Toulouse Murderer” was at its peak… I knew the outcome would probably be reached around the time I would publish this blog… Sordid fate or morbid opportunity to redefine the essence of our love and to deepen its nature… Especially when we have an individual before us whose traits now incarnate terror, hatred, violence and repulsion… but what really happened…?

Who is that 23-year-old young man? Was he born “hate”? Is he part of that lot of people who wake up one morning and kill? Is he a young man whose blood lust can only compare to the destruction he can inflict to the life of those surrounding him? Who is he, this ostracized young man, in a bipolar world where good and bad sail on the same waters? Won’t he be carrying the collective unawareness of the responsibility of a world on fire, where tragedies are analyzed by pseudo-social-experts who blatter their Freudian nonsense from the top of their ivory tower? I don’t excuse hatred, neither can I accept the violence she generates, but is there more to those far too numerous events of hatred and violence than what our own feelings and emotions dictate to us? What leads a 23-year-old young man to become the monster of “everybody else’s” life? I wish the explanation would be simple, so that I could rest my heart and soul… But there is no such thing as an “easy explanation”…

Can we talk about forgiveness here? Can we forgive such hatred and violence? I would like to be able to answer honestly … but I can’t… I think about the victims of such terror… about the survivors who won’t ever be the same… about a collectivity that will be forever marked… about this nation that keeps mourning the decease of its ideals… We talk about strangers… about religion… Even if it was this simple… We talk about the cycle of poverty… but then again, can it explain anything? Not at all… Behind our legitimate needs to list this individual under the “religious freaks” or the “terrorist amongst us” categories, it remains that whether we want it or not, we will have to face who we are… As a collectivity, but also through everybody that is part of this collectivity… “What have we become” is only a screen of smoke covering up the real question, “Who did we become”…

Where are the heroes? With young girls offering their jewels to old farts who gorge themselves with the luxury life we offer them… What are our aspirations? Behind the wheel of cars photographed by crowds of people so they can remind themselves that they’ll never be able to afford such rides… Where are our collective values? In the sterile speeches of a social class that feeds itself off the economic slavery of those of who fatten them up with foie gras and wines that a youth with stateless dreams won’t ever drink… See… For some, this simple state is enough to go mad with rage… And when this rage is channeled by people who want to put the world through fire and bloodshed… It becomes hatred, yes… But even more so, it becomes a cause… And when it becomes a righteous cause, even the sight of blood is not enough to kneel down in front of the despair that initiated such rage that put a gun in someone else’s hand, for the service of the one who will never be judged…and who’s face will never make the newspaper headlines?

I know my opinion and words may come as a shock… All the more that these tragic events deserve a real emotive decency and a deep compassion… My intention is not to shock or to create a polemic… To the contrary… Such actions cannot be forgiven… But the man behind those features of hate may not be the one we believe he is… I would even dare to say that the collective negation we hold towards the reality of the world we live in, also holds the stigma of these events which have now become part of the miscellaneous section by their countless presence all around the world… Should we forgive? I don’t know… I do not have the pretension to know, or the courage to affirm such deep meaning… Facing so much hatred, our powerlessness to prevent its consequences reveals the vulnerability with which we now need to live, and those feelings are unbearable for anyone wishing to live in such community… There lies the real tragedy…

Could love have changed anything to it? Once again, I cannot say…. Pseudo-experts will analyze… Newspapers will turn this story into a goldmine… The presidential race will drink it in until their thirst is satisfied … And the population will have to keep on living… Some will deny… Others will feed their own rage off of it… While some will live in fear, others will demand a radicalization of the state with cries of justice that cannot free them, neither can they restore the most precious thing that hatred took away from us… And what we have that is most precious is not peace… No, not at all… What we have that is most precious is faith… Not a religious type of faith, but the faith in who we are as a collectivity… Doubts choke faith… And without the essence of this faith, the nature of our love can only wither… making way for justice… such an intrinsic state depending on our personal emotions and our individual perceptions of what is right and wrong… One’s justice is often someone else’s repression… Justice remains the armed wing of human nature… And human nature has no equals other than the individualism off which we feed and the selfish despair that this justice produces once consumed… Being allowed to choose, I would choose love and forgiveness, even though they are strangers to my intrinsic nature…

You can say it is easier to write about love and forgiveness with such distance… You are right to think and say so… Because the author of these lines spent 5 years in the core of armed gangs whose only reason for being was racial violence and world destruction… I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, knowing I could have seen in the reflexion the “Toulouse Murderer”, as he is now known… Is there more to this story than what we know of it? Maybe… We probably will never know… But there is one thing I know today… And it is that love and forgiveness can transform the most dreadful and most perfidious person that I know… The computer screen is now reflecting his face as he is sharing the very same words you read at this moment… And as he stands before you, knowing he deserved no love and no forgiveness, he can assure you that even if hatred and violence always find a justification, without love and forgiveness, we would all still be captive…

There are crimes that cannot be freed by justice, my dear Julien… Love frees… And forgiveness makes us accountable for the grace we have received… I will always have to face this mirror… And this is no justice… This is a reminder of the price I had to pay for the forgiveness generated by my redemption… Justice made me think I was a victim… While love transformed me into a survivor… So that I can witness that I am free, but guilty… But it is my own choice to seed life and to expose my own death, because these are the true fruits of love and forgiveness… To the question “Where are our heroes?”… the answer is found in the nature that defines the measure of love and forgiveness by which he carries on his life… To the question “Where are our collective values?”… the answer resides in the choices and decisions that we make every day to avoid falling into the temptation of a justified hatred and of a suggestive human justice… And that makes me believe that we all have the power to be world changers…And this, you see, is the measure by which I discover the true nature of the faith I have towards a dawn composed with the colors of that hope I breathe daily…

I love you,

(Translated from French by Stephanie)

Comments (11)

  • Guardian


    I’m not sure how to write this… as this will go out to many others on the internet. As a mostly private person… I’m not used to sharing with the wider audience. As such, forgive me for keeping my mask on, as “Guardian” now.

    However, this blog seems a good place to put things down, to share my thoughts. Here goes then.

    The idea of Order and Chaos are how I define good and bad. On one end, Order gives life and existence through control. On the other, Chaos is the lack of control, and thus the lack of existence. This is slightly inspired by Dissidia’s Harmony and Discord, which you might be familiar with.

    Different from light and dark, at least I believe so, as one in darkness.. I had a brush with Chaos a few years back, I felt the hate in me, being brought out towards others uncontrollably. As it was, something made me realise and see the full effect of what I was doing. I came to realise the hate inside myself was part of me, just as any love was. That was the start of my path of Order, which I still continue.

    I believe you have a more complex story. But if you truly have changed from what you were before, and by my reckoning you have, then do not let guilt from your past wear you down, preventing you from doing more good in the future. But… I’m sure you already know that, as you carry on, despite all your doubts. I… am truly amazed at your strength.

    I have come to use the strength given by hate, as I still cannot shake the burning anger, to further my own plans for Order. To bring it under full control will be my greatest personal achievement. Despite anger and hate being my strength, at the heart of all that is a love for order, for good to balance it out.

    And.. my word on heroes? They are already out there, saving the world as it is. The ones with dreams of making the world a better place to live in, and give their all for their dream. I have met people online who have such pure dreams… I wish them the best on their journeys.

    I don’t know why I was compelled to post this, maybe because I haven’t before, and just want some thoughts on my ideas and concepts.

    Now, as a fan, I’ll say I love your music, and some of it I feel a connection with. But really, the highlight was the discovery of this blog, where thoughts can flow freely, as I get to understand the heart of YFE. I’ve written much already, there is still alot I want to say… but for now, this will do I think. Thanks for reading.


  • Marcel B.


    Thanks Alex that you opened up so much.
    I think you’re right and that love can change something!
    Because in a way i’ve been there as well.
    People so often bullied me…
    I often thought about revenge, about violance and destuction… I so often wished to hurt those people, just like they hurt me… It was frustration as i was to week to “fight” and no one was there to help me…
    Even my friends didn’t do anything…
    Actually i don’t know what kept me away from let my thoughts come true, but it was good this way. And then i found you, my family!
    But to be honest, sometimes the frustration and those thoughts are still there…
    But i get reminded through the people, who give me theire love every day, that violence is not the right way!


  • Vanessa


    It is a hard subject to comment on. Every situation can bring a challenge to what we originally thought was the answer. I have read a book written by a woman who was raped and kidnapped by two men and let go after a couple of days with them. She explains her journey towards eventually forgiving her assaulters. It was shocking for me the first time I read the book that she would be able to forgive such “monsters”. What I did realise was that she at the same time liberated the hold they still held in her life. They no longer were in power over her life. Now I try to put myself in the shoes of an agressor and wonder how would I feel that the person I did such horrible things to, forgives me… I don’t have an answer. If I was in her place I don’t know if I would have the courage she had.. or have the empathy Sister Helene had towards the convicted killers in Deadman Walking… She demonstrated love to the killer and from what I believe in his final hours maybe he felt freed… maybe he died a different man… no one will know… but it’s harder to say with a story to that extreme… I know for myself that it would be difficult for me to love in ALL situations…


  • Chris


    The impact that your blogs are having on me are always big for sure..The words… the meaning, the images that I get in my mind… There is always a voice though that is telling me that there is a day where I will have as much of an impact… but that I am not there yet…
    How false is that! Brokenness and love are not things that we buy, they are in us waiting for us to have enough commitment to let them bloom out…

    I guess that this is what traces the line between victimisation and taking action…It all starts with accepting to see people and situations on a deeper extend than the first level…

    The ”Tueur de Toulouse” lives among us in all of our environments and we are ”The Tueur de Toulouse” too at some points in our own realities… but I guess that if we all drop down our weapons and look at each other for who we are…That is where actions and names have no more power to define us…
    That I can do it today…no need to wait anymore!


  • Sue


    A powerful and thoughtful piece of writing that is sure to generate much debate… and that is good… debate is something we all need…. Will help us all try to understand what motivates those who do have this level of hate….

    Help us to understand and help us to forgive.
    Forgiving is the hardest thing of all, the hardest thing we really ever ask of ourselves. Love is such an important aspect of this forgiveness, and we have to have the faith in ourselves and in others that this can happen and we can move onwards in our lives…

    We all feel these are bad people when they do things like the man in Toulouse… sadly most of them end up dead themselves, killed by police in the name of “Justice”…. One has to say… if the police were not so fast to give “justice” would this enable us to gain some understanding into these people… try to work out “why”……
    maybe then we could recognise the potential in others and prevent further tragedies occurring…

    Understanding and forgiveness will only come with love… that is the only way forward.


  • Mary


    Who are the heroes? I believe that your answer is described in a way in your previous blog, when you’re saying that no one is special or unique, we all have the opportunity to be transformed by love and have an impact on the people surrounding us. 
    So we all become heroes in a way, by the choices that we do to be in action, in regards of an opinion that we have concerning a situation, but also after truly examining what is living in us. If our desire to make a difference, based on love is what is  propelling us to take action, we’re all heroes in a way then? But one thing that I realize, love is a power that we will discover and redefine all our lives if we are always seeking to make grow, if we are constantly seeing to keep it alive in us. 
    Thank you for those words Alex. Once again, another blog that comes and confronts my own nature and that opens my horizons on the possible choices that I can do.


  • Elizabeth


    “To the question “Where are our collective values?..the answer resides in the choices and decisions that we make every day to avoid falling into the temptation of a justified hatred and of a suggestive human justice..and that makes me believe that we all have the power to be world changers..” I agree with you, alex – with that agreement shouting, screaming from the very depths of my being. To be honest, i do not follow the news as closely as i perhaps should, so i had to google search “Toulouse Murderer” before I read your outpouring here to understand the circumstance you have chosen as a platform for these words that actually go against the “intrinsic nature” (to quote you once more) of all of us. The nature of the Jewish/Arab cycle of hatred is currently and has been played out in countless horrendous rifts throughout human history involving every differentiation among us that we can imagine, as you know so well. It is indeed a reflection of the darkest facet of our collective consciousness and values. And how is the tide turned?? It can only turn when at least a few of those involved say…”it stops here”..and choose to respond in love and forgiveness rather than continue the cycle of hate. Is that easy??? Oh no…never…not even possible in our human strength, but I am very sure that our own strength is not all we have to rely on..that the love and forgiveness and redemption that can set us free really is within our reach.. Sometimes we imagine that in the “big” situations, we might be able to somehow forgive and allow our light to shine – in those situations that explode into lives and cannot be ignored – and some have responded in this way with miraculous utterly unexpected results. But what about those day to day decisions that we all face – those ones that do not obviously encompass life and death, and yet they do, for it is the accumulation of those choices that can indeed change the world – the world immediately touched by each one of us, but far beyond that too.. Just as you say, every day striving to avoid the temptation to hate and judge in the little things that break our hearts and assault our pride. When we find victory in those things, i truly believe that the dawn you write of is coming..the hope we breath daily – in communion with those walking this journey with us and somehow with the world..

    thank you again..i really cannot express everything in my heart, but “hope” is a very good word for it..

    I love you, believe in you and that treasure within..praying always, mom e


  • Mune


    Alex you never fail to amaze me your forgiveness deep compassion and unconditional love for all people and animals is truly something you forgive and love all unconditional and if we had more people like you in the world we would live in a world filled with love and peace i am humbled and honored to know you and love you as you are in my eyes PERFECT i always love reading your blogs love Mune and sending you big hugs


  • Ben


    Thanks so much brother for sharing your heart and exposing yourself like that. You are really a living testimony of that love and faith that can turn despair into light.
    It is a great opportunity for this generation to rise up and become something different than what we were destined to be.

    Without this love, I wouldn’t be here today and I would have became a bitter and very ugly person. That love has the power to change the written path we all think we are on.

    but the real question is…..who deserves forgiveness ? and what are the standards we set in our lives to define who will receive that love and who won’t.
    I ask myself the very same question !!

    love you bro


    • Samantha


      I don’t believe it’s about whether or not the person “deserves” forgiveness, because forgiving someone allows your own heart to be freed of the anger and hatred. Justice may still be done, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that appropriate punishment for their actions shouldn’t be carried out.. but keeping the anger and hatred in your own heart will bring you down more than it will the other person. The real question is, are you willing to give it up in exchange for being free of those burdens?


      • Elizabeth


        Oh Sam,I think you’ve hit on the very heart of it…no one “deserves” forgiveness, even though as Ben says, some people and circumstances are easier for us to forgive than others, but when we decide to keep anger and hatred in our hearts against those whom we believe have harmed us, we truly are the ones who languish in “prison”….I love the way you phrase your question – “am i willing to give up the “justified” anger and hatred in exchange for being free of those burdens?” If we could only see what an incredible bargain that exchange can be, we would never hesitate to push toward making it..and even if we do this initially for ourselves, the healing impact will reach far beyond our own hearts.


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