by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
Some people complain that responses to bad things happening in the world today have dissolved into a #hashtag for people to post in social media and make themselves feel like they’ve done something. This might be true on some levels, but I don’t think we should discount that social media has helped society talk about some issues that we haven’t done so well with in the past. Whether you agree or not, hashtags like #yesallwomen, #blacklivesmatter, #umbrellarevolution, #whyIstayed, and #JeSuisCharlie have people talking about diverse issues.
And now we have #PrayForParis.
I watched the news coverage along with millions around the world of the simultaneous attacks in Paris late on the night of Friday the 13th. The sounds of bombs, terrified screams, and crying. The sights of people fleeing through the streets and bloody carnage. (Kudos to the French media for their self-control in not broadcasting during the law enforcement response. American media should take note.) A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing people were dying at those places, at that very moment.
Some people may be overwhelmed by another mass murder. Some have become numb to it. “We can’t do anything about it. What’s the point?”
Evil exists. It has channeled itself through individuals and groups and instituitions and entities around the globe for thousands of years. The idea that all people are inherently good is nice, but history does not bear this out. Evil exists.
So the question is: how should we respond to evil?
When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail. -Pearl S. Buck
The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others. -Henry Ward Beecher
The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. -Albert Einstein
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. -Nelson Mandela
Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings. -Helen Keller
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. -St. Francis of Assisi
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don’t think there is a “should” or a ‘proper response’ to horrific events perpetrated by people against other people. As human beings, we feel a need to bear witness, to reach out, to reach up. To cry, and scream, and shake our fists. To pull our loved ones closer. To write about it, create art about it, sing about it. To help, to organize, to donate. To gather with others and say “No more”.
If your belief is that love never fails, you can pray for that love to flow. Let it start with you. Don’t let the evil in the world cut you off from your faith. Don’t let it harden your heart.
Don’t let it stop you from putting yourself in other people’s shoes. If empathy dies, we are lost.
How can we respond when faced with evil?
Pray, meditate, speak positive words.
Let it disinfect your soul from the venom of hate others try to contaminate the world with. Let it change the energy in your own sphere of influence. It starts with you. Send your declarations to the heavens, around your home, and across the globe.
Put your outrage in the right place.
Don’t spew the same ignorance by attacking people who you associate with evildoers because they look like them or have what seems like a similar belief system. That is wasted energy and only fuels the very thing that these reprobates espouse. Division is key when evil tries to take root.
Take a break from the media coverage.
With our 24/7 news cycle, tragic circumstances can seem even more so. Turn off the TV and social media for a bit. The news channels make money by rehashing fear. Once the facts are reported, why do the talking heads have to magnify the fear repeatedly? Because they have advertisers. You don’t have to join in.
Keep your perspective.
Terrorism by its very definition wants to worm its way into your psyche with its unknown fear. Use common sense, stay alert, if you see something say something, but continue your life. Otherwise they win.
Do good today.
Wake up with a goal to go out of your way to be kind. Let the other person go first at the stop sign. Buy someone’s coffee for them. Brush off thoughtless comments. Smile.
Keep doing good.
Make doing good a lifestyle. Aim to be a different type of famous. Model kindness. Teach it to your children and grandchildren.
Make a difference.
Think about Malala Yousafzai. A young girl from Pakistan who lived under Taliban rule, she wanted to see the oppression against young girls in her country trying to receive an education stop. She did what she could do. She agreed to start a blog under a pseudonym with BBC Urdu help when she was 12. She wanted to tell others what was happening where she lived. The Taliban stopped girls from going to school. They blew up schools. They killed local law enforcement. Malala still wrote. The Taliban found out Malala was the blogger, came to her home, and shot her in the head. Malala survived and continues to speak out for the rights of young girls and women to receive education in her homeland and around the world. For her efforts she received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient ever at age 17. She says her inspiration for speaking out was her father, a schoolteacher.
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage were born.” – Malala Yousafzai
Love is an easy word to throw around. Love is a choice. Not always an easy choice. Empathy. Forgiveness. Grace. Generosity. It all has its basis in the real kind of love. A revolutionary type of sacrificial love. Demonstrate love in your family. In your marriage. In your workplace. In your neighborhood. In your school. In your city. That’s how change starts. With one choice. Pray for the strength to seek and pursue revolutionary love.
It’s okay to hashtag #PrayforParis. People are mourning and many need healing. It’s okay to show your support with a hashtag. But you can hashtag #prayforBeirut, too. And #prayforBaghdad. #prayforDhaka. #prayforN’Djamena. #prayforMaiduguri. #prayforKabul. #prayforSousse. #prayforGarissa. People are hurting all over the world. On your street and around the world.
So do what you can do.
What can you do?
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Roman 12:21
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