A young child's struggle to understand the violence wrought by terrorists in Paris — and his father's teaching that humanity prevails — is shining light into a world overcome by grief and fear in the days since 129 were killed and 352 wounded in France's capital city.
The exchange, captured on camera by French media outlet Le Petit Journal, unfolded amid a growing memorial outside the Bataclan, where 89 people were massacred while attending a rock concert Friday night.
"Do you understand what happened?" the television reporter asks a small boy propped on his father's knee, in French.
Yes, the boy says, he does. "They're really, really mean. Bad guys are not very nice."
The child says he fears his family now will have to "change houses" and flee, but his father reassures him they won't have to move.
"France is our home," he explains.
"But Daddy," the boy persists, "there's bad guys."
His father, softly, tells him "there's bad guys everywhere."
"They might have guns, but we have flowers," he says.
Flowers — the boy furrows his brow, confused. "But flowers don't do anything..."
"Of course they do," his father explains. "Look, everyone is putting flowers. It's to fight against guns."
"To protect?" the boy asks.
"Exactly," his father says.
"And the candles too?"
"It's to remember the people who are gone yesterday."
The father's words seem to bring comfort. His son smiles and looks toward the Bataclan memorial, where mourners gather to remember.
He turns back to the reporter.
"The flowers and the candles are here to protect us," he asserts.
The reporter, now a quiet observer, asks the boy if he feels better. Yes, he says, he does.