I don’t know what to say. I have jettisoned the words I was preparing to post for this week. They pale to the events in Paris and the 128 plus people dead at this moment. Six different venues targeted. The same words scroll across the bottom of the screen as images of people running in the night and people placing flowers, lighting candles, at a make shift shrine in the morning. I could become news junky, glued to the TV and listen to experts and world leaders try to help us make sense of the senseless.
But there is no sense here. There is violence; there is death; there is evil, unspeakable evil. But we have to speak of it; we have to no choice. World leaders have to assure us that everything is being done to protect us; that we stand with Paris and understand that the attack is a clash between cultures and civilizations. As Pope Francis put it just this morning: It is part of a piecemeal Third World War.
I’m struggling to say something new or profound. Maybe that is too hard a task. There is nothing new to say. We can reiterate what we have said before: We will fight for the survival of our values; we will do everything we can to protect ourselves; we will not surrender to fear; we will not be paralyzed by our anxieties. We have faced evil like this before, not necessarily in this specific form, but there have always been enemies of our way of life that have attacked at the rear of the column, where the unarmed, the unprepared, the frail and the innocent congregate.
It is a terrible fact of contemporary life. I still have CNN on and I watch as my grandchildren float in and out of the room and I wonder how they see this through their eyes. What does it do to their view of the world? Are they able to compartmentalize it and still giggle and laugh at the silly, the absurd, the imaginary?
Less is more in this case. The Bible says it best. “I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curse. Choose life that you and your children may live.” Fear is not an option. Isolation is not a choice. Hatred, stereotyping and collective blame do not help us deal effectively with how we go forward. Living does; loving does; affirming all that is good is our society will. Choosing to live.