When I Grow Up

Let Love Conquer Fear

Like many other people, my mind keeps going to the recent events in Paris and more recently here in the States. I have been struggling to understand the reality. My brain cannot comprehend the senseless violence and what could cause anyone to be willing to commit such horrendous acts.

I am almost as baffled by the reactions as I am by the tragic events themselves. I understand the fear, but not the solutions many are proposing to alleviate it. Most faiths teach kindness and encourage helping others, especially those less fortunate. Societies are only successful when people work together for the common good. How it is that today, so many are willing to turn their backs on individuals in serious need, just on the off chance that they may be a villain in disguise, waiting to do harm. Will we be any safer by doing so?

On the other side, I have been struck by how much love there is. This gives me hope for the future. Many of the stories from the survivors, as well as the families of the victims (though let’s face it, all of humanity can rightly be called victims here) focus on the positive. During the attacks, strangers held each others’ hand and took actions to try to protect and comfort others around them. Some even took a bullet to protect another. In Paris, local people took strangers into their homes. Perhaps most amazing of all, some of the loved ones of those who died have refused to hate the attackers.

While those directly involved are faced with physical and emotional wounds, others are reacting to possible dangers. Politicians are making sweeping comments and fear is ruling lives. Isn’t that the goal of terrorism, to make us feel terror? I’ll admit, this all scares me. I am not yet ready to leave this earth and I don’t want to see my loved ones go either. The only true safety I see is to move my family into the wilderness, become isolated from society and find a way to completely provide everything we need. (Not a move I am willing to make.) I understand the fear that is causing some to say we can’t help, that we need to protect ourselves. But, how can we just do nothing?

Maybe it is because of the approaching holiday season, but Dr. Seuss’ Grinch keeps coming to my mind. Perhaps we should take a lesson from the great philosopher Dr. Seuss (and I use this term in all seriousness) in our approach to overcoming this threat. Despite the fact that the Grinch took everything from the Whos, they continued on, showing that love in fact conquers all. Yes, the Grinch did nothing more than steal objects from a town, but in his failure, he learned a great lesson. Seuss tells how the villain was confused at how the townspeople could still experience joy. A transformation occurs when the Whos take their love a step further and welcome him to their table. The result: his heart grows exponentially and he is reformed; he learns to love. Isn’t love the surest road to peace?

I am not suggesting that the solution is simple. I don’t think there is an easy answer. What I do know is that fear paralyzes, that decisions based on fear are not always sound ones. On the other hand, love involves taking a chance, allowing ones self to be vulnerable. I think there is some middle ground, where we can love our neighbors and be safe; a place where we can trust in the basic decency of people, despite the few who aren’t. And maybe, just maybe, help their little, black hearts grow.