Today, the world grieves.
Once again, we’ve seen the actions of a monstrous few harm countless innocent lives. People are outraged, heartbroken, and angry, and rightly so. So am I. So is anyone with a conscience.
It’s days like yesterday that threaten two of my core beliefs: that there is hope for the future, and that humanity, for all its flaws and savagery, is essentially good at heart. It’s days like today when the hardest thing in the world is to hold on to those beliefs, in the face of overwhelming opposition.
But I will hold on to them. I cannot, must not give up, My faith in humanity is shaken, yes, but not broken.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it—always.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Above is one of the quotes keeping me level right now. It’s one of the greatest things that I think Gandhi ever said, and I have it on constant replay in my mind as I write this.
I wonder what Gandhi would have thought, if he were alive today. I wonder if he would struggle as we all are struggling, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to answer the great question of “Why?” that always follows terrible events.
“Why?” In the short term, the answer seems simple: a small group of fanatics wanted this to happen, and used religion as an excuse to justify their bloodlust. Despite what you may hear in the coming days, despite what the world tries to tell you, despite what even your own thoughts might try to convince you is the root of this tragedy, Islam is not responsible. You and I must not allow ourselves to fall into the all-too-common trap of blaming Muslim people as a whole for what ISIS has done. The people who attacked Paris and Lebanon are not Muslim. That is what they want us to think. They commit violence to incite more violence. They want to drag us down into war, pull us deeper into an endless cycle of grief and retaliation.
So if you’re feeling as shocked, hurt, and helpless as I was this morning, keep in mind that the best way to fight back is not to call for war, but to call for peace. Do not demonize them as they demonize us. It will be hard, and on some days it may seem impossible… but they only win if we sink to their level.
I won’t lie: in the coming days, I fear for the world. I fear that as has happened before and will happen again, the extremists who walk among us will drive us to conflict for petty, selfish reasons. The voices of restraint, sanity, and understanding may be drowned out. It’s a reasonable fear.
But remember this: if we hold onto our humanity, even in times like these, especially in times like these, they will fail. In the end, they will always fall.
So, it may be the hardest thing in the world to do right now, but do not give up.
Tell yourself: there is hope for the future, even when all seems hopeless. There is good our hearts, even when evil hurts us. Remember those beliefs, cling to them to your dying breath, no matter what happens, and we will win.
We cannot, must not, give up.
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks. We press on.
(Originally posted to The Daily Kos)