I have a daughter Melinda and three grandchildren living in Paris. A few years ago, Melinda lived on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, one Metro stop from the scene of the worst of the massacres . . . and I am scared.
But we all are scared and we all should be scared. Our homeland is on the target list. We all grieve for the dead in Paris. We all rejoiced when the “ringleader” was trapped and blew himself up as he did on November 19, 2015. The bastard!
Yet Paris does not stand alone. That same weekend, ISIS claimed almost 40 Lebanese lives in Beirut and two weeks earlier, over 200 Russian lives in Egypt. Today it is 27 dead and 170 hostages taken in Bamako, the capital of Mali – a former French Colony and a part of the former French Sudan in North Africa.
Every week or so it seems as there is more horror and more “never again” pronouncements. Will it ever stop? Will it ever grind to a merciful halt? Or will we become so hardened to the killings that only occasionally an extreme event captures our emotions (much as we have become hardened to the victims of gun violence who die almost daily on the streets of Cleveland and become mere footnotes on page B-4 of the Plain Dealer)?
The reality is that the world is a violent place. Cities, schools, cafes and public places are often violent places. And it WILL continue. It may get better, but it WILL continue as it has ever since the day when human kind first walked this earth. Remember the story of Cain and Abel?
What can/should we “do”? Well, first of all we can be smart about it. While we must not react out of irrational fears, arm ourselves and risk causing more innocent deaths, we can and should take reasonable measures to protect ourselves, mindful of the values for which this nation stands.
More importantly, we can recognize that there is a palpable presence in this world which we call the universal, the ground of our being, our higher power, or simply “God”. He/She loves all living creatures. He/She is embraced by all cultures and loves all people regardless of their culture, religion or nationality. God cries when a Paris, a Beirut, or a World Trade Center happens. God is within and around all of us . . . all the time. We only need to pay attention and listen.
That my friends is one everlasting truth which we can take away from all of these tragedies.
November 20, 2015
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can change; and the wisdom to know the difference.”