I was going to write a post about spirituality and religion in my books (I don’t think I’ve covered that yet – if I start repeating blog topics, tell me), but then the tragedy in Paris happened last night. I’ve never been there, I don’t know anyone who lives or was visiting there (thank God), but like the rest of the world, I’m in shock and saddened beyond belief.
The “buy my book” posts certainly seem inappropriate and small-minded right now, and why blog about history when we are living it? Blogging is a form of therapy, so I’m going to take this chance to try to process what has taken place, and maybe, by reading this, you’ll be able to do the same – maybe just a bit.
I keep thinking about what happened – suicide bombers in Europe, sprays of bullets into a crowded concert and a packed restaurant, all innocent people going about their daily lives – and all I can think is “what is this world coming to?” I know incidents like this have been happening in the Middle East for years, but it’s like 9/11, we never thought it would happen to us, to the Western world.
And yet it has.
What does this mean? None of the people who died could have known it was going to be their last few hours on earth when they piled into that concert or sat down for dinner. In some ways, it’s proof that when it’s your time, it’s your time. But no one should have to fear doing mundane things because they might be killed. But that’s the whole point of terrorism, right? Demonstrate that you (the terror group) are powerful by showing you can get to people anytime, anywhere. In America, recent events have shown us it is no longer safe to go to school, to church or to the movies. Now you can’t have dinner or go to a concert without wondering if someone is going to blow themselves up or open fire.
It’s all about fear.
The question is, do we let it stop us, or do we carry on in spite of (or because of) it? The answer is that we have to carry on. We have to mourn, we have to pray and we have to live, no matter if we have two days or 50 years to go. We cannot back down and hide in our homes. History has shown us that waves of terror come and go. Countless lives are shattered and lost in the meantime, but as the human race, we have to overcome.
How? I have no idea. I feel so small and insignificant in the face of such pure evil and hatred. I don’t believe more violence is the answer, yet as much as we’re told to forgive, I find it very difficult to feel merciful toward groups/individuals who show no mercy toward innocent civilians.
But one thing we can each do is forgive those in our lives who have wronged us. (I’m saying this just as much to myself as to everyone else.) It’s freeing. It brings about a small measure of peace. Maybe if we practice it in our own lives, the energy of the universe will slowly begin to tip from hate to love.
Speaking of hate, I feel compelled to point out that even though ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, this isn’t a Muslim problem. It’s not an immigration problem. It’s not a racial problem. It’s a violent, crazy group of radicals problem. Intolerance does nothing but increase fear and injustice, the very things terrorism feeds off of. We can counteract that by being tolerant of our fellow human beings, no matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or country of origin. And if we teach our kids to be tolerant and accepting, we win small victories toward a better future.
And we can pray. Pray for the victims and their families, for a shell-shocked country, for a world that will never be the same. And if you’re not religious, that’s fine. Just do something nice for someone else. That’s one thing that continues to amaze me (in a good way) about humanity – how we pull together in times of crisis. If only we could keep that up after the dust settles.
History is being made, there’s no doubt of that. I’m only 36 years old. I’ve never known a world where the Middle East wasn’t at war (most of the time with this country, formally or informally). I’ve already lived through (not personally, but culturally) the Iran hostage crisis, the Lockerbie bombings and hijacking scares of the 80s, the fear of the IRA blowing up England in the 80s and 90s, the rise of home-grown terrorism with the Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11, London, Mumbai, and now Paris. The pace is accelerating and it’s terrifying. Pope Francis called these latest attacks part of a “piecemeal Third World War.”
I’m sad to say I think he may be right. There are no easy answers. But we have to keep on living. Hug your loved ones tight and pray for France. Try to be a little more kind to your fellow man. I know I will. It’s all we can do.