Paris. Beirut. Iraq. Syria.
What can you possibly say in the face of these attacks, the mass loss of life across the world in a small period of time? The blatant hatred and disregard for the beauty of humanity?
Jesus, come quickly.
When things like this happen, I can’t stop reading the stories that emerge. The stories that give faces to human lives snuffed out senselessly.
And what always wrecks me the most? Imagining these people minutes before their lives forever changed. Happy. Unsuspecting. Maybe fighting about trivial things. They had no idea. They were innocent.
I know it doesn’t begin to compare, but in a tiny way, it’s like watching my baby giggle and kick on the doctor’s table while we wait for the nurse to come back with his shots. He doesn’t know the pain his perfect fat thighs are about to feel because he’s never experienced it before. Because he’s a human being, he has to learn what pain is.
But the victims of these attacks and the bystanders shouldn’t have had to learn what it’s like to experience debiliating pain. Life without the people who were standing next to them. They shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of loss and trauma at the hands of hatred.
So, what do we say from across the world? What do we do?
There’s a common theme when someone loses a loved one. Sometimes the only words they can offer are: “Hug the ones you love. You never know how much time you have left.”
Sure we can help by providing even a sliver of financial relief to those who are suffering. We can go to them to help rebuild if we are able. We can pray before we crawl into our warm, safe beds. But I think the best thing we can do is to live, not in fear, but in gratitude for who we love and what we have. Not with no regrets or no uncertainties — those are inevitable — but with no hindrances.
I think sometimes it’s hard for us Americans to empathize with the third-world countries who face this kind of violence on a daily basis. But my husband and I got babysitters and went to a concert a few weeks ago. We enjoyed good music and uninterrupted conversation, basking in the fun and freeing hours away from our normal responsibilities. Our anticipation, our defenses that help us navigate our busy lives were lowered.
The people at the concert hall in Paris were no different than us. The people whose babies get caught in gunfire in Syria are no different than us. So we have no excuse.
We cannot give this faceless enemy our fear. We need to focus on mindfulness, bravery, compassion, and kindness.
We have to keep going to concerts, singing as loudly as we can.
We have to walk boldly, hand-in-hand with the ones we love. Vigilant but not looking over our shoulders so much that we miss what’s in front of us.
We have to love, not raising our hackles every time we pass someone who might be Muslim on the street.
Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again
I’ll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise