Terror, gratitude and the failure of fear and hatred
(First published in the London Free Press, Saturday, May 27, 2017)
As the rain falls on my car windshield on my way into work, I choke back a few tears, thinking about my younger brother, Jason. His birthday would have been earlier this week. He’s been gone since September. We know now it was in part an undiagnosed heart issue that took him too soon.
Also earlier this week, a bomb was detonated at a concert at Manchester Arena in the U.K., killing and injuring many innocent people.
My thoughts instantly went to another of my brothers, living with his young family near Oxford, England. His wife has family in the northern part of the country. A text from that brother told me everyone was OK.
I can’t imagine the terror and hysteria that must have happened when families scrambled to find out if their kin were safe after the bombing.
Life is so utterly fleeting. It’s like a punch in the gut when you hear news like that, even when you’re not geographically close. Social media and digital news has made the world much smaller.
As the windshield wipers flip-flop, clearing away the raindrops, I question how a human being can consider this anything but a senseless act. I feel almost numb to the significance of the breach of safety. I feel helpless, not knowing what, if anything, I can do about it. I feel angry but have nowhere to put that anger. I’m like most people, I imagine.
That anger has to go somewhere and inevitably people start pointing fingers. Terrorist groups and extremists are just that. They are rogue representatives. They do not represent an entire race nor religion, but people’s anger has to go somewhere. People have to make sense of it.
The pictures of the victims were released this week, adding salt to an already painful wound. When will it end? More importantly, how will it end?
I’m not talking about this one investigation; I’m thinking about the impact these vicious attacks have on our psyche, on our global perspective, on our humanity.
As I sit in my car, the raindrops peppering my car roof, waiting for a break in the barrage, I ponder the effect of current events. I am among those who don’t have cable anymore and therefore don’t get the incessant “updates and analysis” of some cable accessible news stations. I now have a different lens to view what’s happening in the world, one where I control what I see and hear and I can filter through the commentary.
I sit in my car and wonder how many people have become desensitized to these horrific events.
My mind wanders back to my brother’s birthday and what his lens was on the world. He never let a person tell him he couldn’t do something. It never held space in his head. He simply persevered and moved forward. He was emotional and empathetic, with a gentle heart and a desire to lighten the loads of others.
How would he inspire others today? How would he help lighten their load?
He always believed in the good of people and that there was good in the world. He had been deeply hurt, by numerous events and people, and sometimes that hurt consumed him. But he carried on with his sunny and often silly sense of humour, somehow laughing while wiping away tears.
As I open the car door to make the damp walk into my workplace, I am grateful to have a job. I’m thankful I have a roof over my head, food to eat and people that love me; all the good stuff. And I feel immense gratitude that I am still alive.
My responsibility is not to make sense of violence and the damaging choices of others who invoke fear and loathing, but to realize my life is temporary and my own choice of how I view it, paramount to how it will all play out.
I will not live in fear or dwell in hatred. I choose to live, despite the actions of others to make me think otherwise.
Violence never wins.