“The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation”- Mark, RENT
The recent ISIS attacks on Beirut, Lebanon and Paris have rocked the world with a storm cloud of varying emotions and reactions: grief. Outrage. Fear. Desperation. Disappointment. Sympathy. It has made a tragedy of funerals and concerts alike. It has made a hero of at least one selfless father at a marketplace in Beirut. It has made the kinder Muslims in the world (and there are very many) fear how society will see them. And it asks us the question yet again: what can be done to stop this?
There are political answers, I’m sure, involving military and intelligence tactics and world leaders of those countries affected. But I’m talking about us, the ordinary people who haven’t been victimized, who are only seeing this happen from the other side of the world. This may sound crazy, but I feel like there’s some sort of obligation to do something– anything we can at all. Then the curtain descends and we hit the brick wall because there is nothing, nothing we can do right now that will end this madness forever. What can be done, and how, when we have our own problems going on– very small problems, now I realize, but problems that demand our attention all the same?
We can pray, and we have done, as we always have for the past thousands of years. And we can take it farther by being kind.
Kindness! Not a month after moving to a new country did I realize that it’s one of the most important things in the world. If you’re kind, your kindness will protect you like armor and people will be kind to you. That’s the goal, at least. Sometimes if doesn’t work out, but hey, at least you were the kind one in the situation. If you’re kind, there’s no way you can lose. Yes, I understand sometimes it can be hard to be kind. But what’s even more emotionally exhausting is to be hateful. It’s like leaving the engine of your car on overnight. Isn’t that energy better spent on doing good and being good?
Here’s what I know: Bad things have happened. Things we could not stop and things that cannot be taken back. Things that have come about because of reasons I cannot even fathom to understand. So what do we do now?
I guess we do good.
I guess we be kind. And I promise to be, I promise to try. I will be good and I will be kind, and tolerant, and generous, and helpful, and respectful, and I will create where others do nothing but destroy. It will be a small string of actions when compared to the large, heavy chain of events brought about by extremism and aggression and greed, but I have to believe it will help. And I have to believe that I am not alone. I will do all of these things to make up for atrocities which I am not guilty of. What happened was not our fault; what happens next is our responsibility.
You’re probably thinking, ‘so that’s your brilliant idea? Be good?’ It kind of sounds naive and idealistic. But this is the most realistic way I can think of to combat a force that has its roots in cruelty and violence. After all, ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’ So for every tragedy that occurs, we need to show love and kindness in equal amount. We can’t change people’s minds, convince them not to kill for something they believe in. It just doesn’t work. But what does work is when we take responsibility for ourselves and promise I’m not going to hide in the darkness, I will be the friggin’ light.
So, listen up, bad guys. You know that unforgivable sh*t you just pulled off? This, our kind retaliation, is the opposite. When you do bad, we’ll do better. And nothing in the world will ever rob us of our right to do the right thing.