What any terrorist wants, whether it be a man stalking a woman or a group attacking a city or even a country, is to try to make us to feel unsafe, playing upon our most fundamental fears. If we give in and allow ourselves to be terrified and our inner sanctuary to be disrupted, they have won. In the most twisted way the terrorist is searching for empathy -- by causing pain and horror to others; by creating chaos, the terrorists perhaps unconsciously feel they won't be as alone in their estrangement and lack of belonging.
We deeply grieve, we join in heartbreak, but we will not let this scare us permanently; they cannot take away the innate sense of safety within ourselves and the connection we have with one another unless we let them. Love and truth always win in the end. That is something I will believe in the face of whatever appears before me. In the love... the healing begins. May this bring us together in an even stronger, braver, more valiant way.
There were scattered thunderstorms in Paris the day after... and everywhere.
Image from Stephen Ellcock
Earlier in the year when many of us posted on Facebook about the death of Cecil, the lion, there were others who reacted forcefully with, "Why be concerned about one animal? What about the killing of human beings around the world? What about the aborted fetuses?" (Yes, this was actually said to me on Facebook.) Now there are people reacting against the laser beamed focus of sympathy and heartbreak for France. "What about Beirut, what about the tragedy in Syria, the terrorist deaths everyday around the world?"
We are living in a time of radical extremes. Certain incidents are rising to the surface as symbols in the midst of the chaos -- each becomes a symbolic clarion call to all of us to wake up. The senseless killing of Cecil quickly became a powerful symbol of man's inhumanity to animals and other creatures on this earth. It struck a resonant chord within many of us -- not because we don't care about man's inhumanity to man, that is another issue. And now real change is taking place regarding trophy hunting and saving endangered species; even the fight to do away with the ivory trade has ratcheted up.
Robert Doisneau, "Le baiser de l'hotel de ville", 1950
The same goes for the outpouring for France -- it does not mean that people don't care about what is happening in Beirut daily or about any of the other atrocities we are facing around the world. What just happened in France is a symbol we can grab hold of -- yet another clarion call we cannot and will not ignore. Paris is known as the "City of Light" -- La Ville Lumiere - and also the City of Love. The City of Light has been visited yet again by a veil of darkness -- this is symbolic of the times we are all living in right now. Many of us have friends and loved ones there -- we have an immediate intimacy with Paris for a variety of reasons, its history, its legacy of literature, art and romance. Paris is a fairy tale to many of us around the world. And now that fairy tale we instinctively want to believe in is under threat.
These heightened tragedies become symbols; they bring the dire issues we all must face now home to us in a way that reaches our hearts and spurs us on to take real action to affect lasting change. There is so much at stake right now -- for humanity, our environment, our earth.
Instead of shaming people for grabbing hold of these symbols, we must let these symbolic tragedies begin to awaken us to a new consciousness, a deep compassion and awareness toward one another around the world -- and toward all the creatures that inhabit this planet, and our care of the earth and its environment. The ultimate hope is that this will begin to usher in a new, more positive, illuminated era of our continued life here on this planet. If enough of us hold fast to that vision, there is indeed more than hope -- it can become an actuality.