When I first read the article, I immediately remembered words I heard recently from our new French friend: "Contrary to what people think, France is not Paradise."
This statement was in the context of a conversation we were having about how hard a lot of young people, like themselves (in their early 30s), work in France. That basically living and working here is very different than visiting and vacationing in France. Maybe the people who voted to live in France, haven't actually lived in France. Maybe the fantasy is better than the reality.
Don't get me wrong; overall our experience of arriving and beginning our lives in France has been mostly positive, but we have also seen very sad things in France. I still have a hard time getting out of my head the face of a young boy lying in his father's lap, as I walked through the Farmer's Market, begging for money. This is a very frequent sighting in the city of Montpellier. Sometimes even the young children are put to work and will sing, dance, or play an instrument for money.
I've also heard from the French themselves:
*The young people in France are suffering; they do not earn very much money, and it is very expensive to live here.
*Despite a really amazing Health Care system; households have to contribute at least 1,000 - 1,500 euros a month into the system
*It is hard to find employment in France, unless you know someone, even if you have a Masters or are qualified.
The poll of course, from this article, also doesn't speak of the spiritual atmosphere in France, one that is very dark and sometimes seems pretty bleak. We know that God is at work here, but it is hard to see the light, sometimes, in layers of darkness. In general, there is a hopelessness in the voices of those we've spoken to, and it's the hope of Christ that we worship together about on Sunday. It's this hope that I see the Christians, we've met here, are dying to share!
Maybe to some, France is paradise...but to many who live here, it is just life...and it is hard.