When tragedy strikes, it is difficult to know what to do. We mourn. We weep. We get angry. We wonder how it’s even possible for people to hurt each other at all. I stand with France in these troubled times. But more than that, I stand against violence.
Violence seems a part of our nature. It’s something not everyone is able to control. Though I’m not a religious person, I’m familiar enough the basic tenets of “Love thy neighbor” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Why must these be in religious writings and prayer? Because the violence is within us and we need to be reminded to avoid it.
So it up to us now to challenge ourselves to be stronger than that inner seed of hatred and anger and rage. We must channel the force of violence and reshape it into something more positive. Use that drive to improve an aspect of the world around you, to make it better for everyone. It may be small at first. You hold a door for someone even when you’re running late. You breathe deeply when someone wrongs you and try to understand where they’re coming from, then speak your mind more calmly. Work on a new invention that helps ease the suffering of others. Pitch in at a soup kitchen. When the violence comes, find ways of diffusing it.
It isn’t always possible and I don’t mean to sound callous. I have no intention of belittling the pain of shootings like those that happened in France or in schools around the world, and so forth. These events must remind us not to lose sight of our humanity. We must grieve. We must feel. We must respond, but we must do so carefully.
Sometimes it is important to react in kind and stop a force that rises up against us. But in the day to day, remember that we are all struggling with that inner anger. We all feel injustices around us, even if it’s just at the person who cut in front of you on the highway. We each have a struggle we are facing, so let us take the time to be a little nicer. To go out of our way a little bit for someone in need. To slowly put an end to violence by making it unnecessary.
Idealistic? Perhaps. But if I did not believe in a brighter, wiser tomorrow, then I would not be able to teach today.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families. Today and tomorrow and the next day, I will do that one extra thing to help another person, to share the message of peace above violence, to improve the world around me even just a little. As we all grieve, let us all do the same.
I light a candle tonight in honor of those lost. May you rest in peace.