I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since the attacks on Paris last Friday. Feeling confused. Disheartened. Angry. Lost even. And I can’t help but wonder:
- Has the world always been this scary?
- What’s the point of it all — the point of anything — if we’re all just on a journey to our graves?
- How can we possibly protect ourselves in a world in which a stranger whom we can’t predict and we’ve never done any harm to is willing to destroy us?
- What would I do if faced with such a horrific situation? Could I be heroic?
- How can we all be human beings and yet not all of us value human life?
- How in God’s good name do we win this war?
I don’t have any answers, but I do know it’s become so much harder to hear these stories since having children. I just want them to be safe. I want to send them out into the world knowing that they will come back to me. I want to go out into the world with them, knowing that I won’t have to shield their body with mine to protect them. I would do that if I had to. I would do it in a second. But I don’t want to.
And I know there are no guarantees. We could die in a car accident tomorrow. A tree could crash through the roof tonight. My daughter, when she fell off her bunk bed yesterday morning, could have hit her head just right and it could have all been over. No guarantees. But the thought that someone, an evil someone, could walk into a restaurant, or a school, or a movie theater or somewhere else benign and mundane and intentionally take my or my child’s life? No…sorry…I can’t live with that. I just can’t.
I suppose it would be easy to succumb to the fear. Sometimes, I want to. I want to stay away from crowded spaces. I want to stop traveling. Avoid public transport. Go to our tiny little preschool and maybe the park (surely no terrorists will be at the park??) and home and that’s it. I want to hide away. Lock our borders. Build a moat around myself and my heart and keep all intruders out. But that can’t really be the right way, can it? No, the answer can’t be to hide away and turn inwards and live in fear of letting any foreigner in (and I’m not starting a political debate here; just talking about in our own individual lives). I think the thing we have to do is turn to each other. We are stronger when standing together, am I right?
I’m not sure what I hoped to accomplish by beginning this post. Even as I type it out, it sounds a little too Utopian for my taste. But nevertheless, if there was one message I wanted to put out there, it’s this: spread love. Go out into the world and give away as much love as you can. As we all navigate this minefield of terror attacks and school shootings and hate and even, dare I say it, the very personal battles and broken hearts we each encounter in our own lives, please don’t let the grief and pain and fear overcome the best parts of you. Love a little harder today. Forgive a little quicker. Look out for your neighbor. Wave at the jerk who cuts you off in traffic and smile at the b*tch who talks behind your back at work. Be good to one another.
And you can roll your eyes all you want, but it’s the only way, people. I don’t think love will solve everything. It never does. But it’s a good start.
And good always wins in the end.