Two days ago, we all watched in horror as Paris was attacked. Our collective hearts broke as terrorists, with no regard for life and full of evil, killed over 100 people and wounded hundreds more. As more images filled the screen I felt my heart harden more and more. Before I knew it, I was seething and internally cheering when politicians began to openly state we would destroy all who were part of the attack.
Certainly those in ISIS are out to destroy anyone who does not choose to believe what they do. They choose to kill, maim and create fear where ever they are; negotiating and reasoning won’t work with the hatred they are filled with. There is no doubt this particular type of evil must be confronted with strength more powerful than its own and more daunting than their belief systems compels them to be.
Understanding this, I must constantly guard my own heart against becoming rigid and hard. I must be willing, even in the midst of justified anger, to keep myself in check and not go to extreme unbending positions. I must be ready to choose to bring more light and love to the world instead of more darkness and despondency.
The question is, after such a horrible terrorist attack, how do we who are not directly connected to it choose to respond?
I can’t help but remember that after 9/11 many in the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and other Eastern religions were treated with disdain and fear all through North America. Our ignorance caused mothers to fear going to the grocery store, children to be pulled from school and fathers to lose their jobs. If we are not careful, that same scenario will once again flourish and it will be justified by our rage against wicked men who have nothing to do with those we walk and live life with today. Darkness filled the streets of Paris – lets not allow it to fill our hearts, neighborhoods and friendships too.
It is my suggestion this week that we all seek out someone who is different from ourselves, and in particular our Muslim neighbors, and extend a hand of kindness. It is my challenge for all of us to shine God’s love so the darkness of prejudiced and shame cannot not grow.
Be aware. Smile. Say hello. Greet them with kindness and compassion. Most important, understand they are different from the evil that was met on the streets of Paris this week and LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE WELCOME.
I was indeed seething as I watched the attacks on Paris as I should have been. Innocent lives were lost and we all should be outraged by the horrific crimes that were committed by evil that day. Paris has all of our support and love. That will never change. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them. We will weep when they weep and will fight when they fight. We also need to handle our justified anger with wisdom and not project it on the innocent around us. Instead, we need to shine light and love through out our lives fighting to extinguish the darkness that seeks to destroy and overcome us all.
I’m in, how about you?