It goes without saying, but I say it anyway: tragedy, in any guise, is terrible. And when we inflict it upon our fellow brothers and sisters, soul-aching. Pray for Paris.
Do you believe in evil?
I’ve met many people that subscribe wholeheartedly to the concept of evil, while simultaneously dismissing the concept of God as a convenient rationalization.
I believe in God. I believe we’re all worthwhile beings by virtue of being His children. I believe in angry, stupid, and misguided people (having been one myself), but I do not believe in evil.
I think we can do better that particular trope. Sprinkle in some nuance. Dig deeper. Ask questions like: what leads a person to such lows? What must a person’s life look like before they decide to take innocent lives at random? After? What would it feel like?
I submit that the pieces at play here are the same pieces that clinked into place for Columbine, for Virginia Tech, for 9/11, for any terrorist attack, any murder. Fear. Anger. Desperation. And a pliable mind. The more we convince ourselves that we cannot relate to these experiences, the more we absolve ourselves of any moral obligation and the more secure we become in our self-righteousness.
I’ve certainly never been evil, but I have made a great deal of careless, desperate decisions in my life that have caused other people pain. At face this may seem like an inane comparison. Is it? The terrorists in Paris have no physical bearing on my life as yet, and so the question I am always left with is: what can I learn from this? How can I become a better woman?
My family is alive and healthy, but it is not enough for me to simply be grateful for this fact. While they are alive, it is my purpose and goal in life to ensure that their time here is filled with love, so much that they never have to experience the kind of abject pain that both the victims and perpetrators in Paris must now be facing. Not an ounce of it. In the times that I am angry at my daughter, I see flashes of this pain. Dismiss it if you want. Or think about the cumulative effect that can have over a lifetime. I assure you the violence of those emotions is quite real to my two year old.
Inside of all those terrorists is someone who was once two. Take a guess at how they were treated then. There are millions of refugees from the Middle East. What separates the peaceful ones that try to establish lives for themselves from the volatile ones that try to take as many lives as they can? It is always fear and anger, always in degrees. Don’t underestimate the stabilizing power of love.
If there are any terrorists that escaped, they must obviously be hunted down and restrained, if not killed. We enjoy agency in this life. We reap the rewards. You don’t hurt people without paying the cost.
My question is this: while we kill them, why not pray for the gunmen, too?