In light of the weekend’s events, my heart has been heavy. Franconia is not really near France, but I got plenty of concerned messages from the USA wondering if everything ok. And it is ok here for now. The problem with terror is that it makes you wonder if it will stay ok…
Only after I woke up to the Paris news, did I learn about Beirut, and Baghdad. Whenever something like this occurs it rocks us. It makes us realize the very fragile nature of our lives. It’s difficult not to mourn the fact that everything can change in an instant. “Should we be afraid?” we ask ourselves.
Naturally there are plenty of supportive statements going around social media, for example, “Stand with…” whomever has been the victim of the tragic events. I have been thinking about what we really mean by “Stand with…” or if we mean anything at all. And then this morning it struck me. It’s like the classic Dr. Suess cartoon, “The Grinch.”
Today I saw very clearly that terrorists, all of them, are like the Grinch. Joy stealing, life stealing cowards using hate to disguise their own insecurity. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, let’s remember what happens when the Grinch tries to steal Christmas. He steals every item that could be part of a celebration. He is methodically stealing their culture. And honestly, what he does should ruin their Christmas or at least take the wind out of everyone’s sails. Everyone in Who-ville should wonder if they will ever be safe again. We can liken the Grinch’s behavior to the acts of terrorists. These acts attempt to rob us of our free spirit, to make us afraid to enjoy life. Aside from the lives they have stolen, these acts attempt to steal our culture, and kill that which makes us us.
After the Grinch steals Christmas, he waits. He waits to see the reaction and he plans to enjoy the screams of terror, and the tears. But the best moment of the story is when we hear the quiet sound of singing rising over the snow, where the cries of terror should be.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started off low. Then it started to grow…
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all!
What I have seen from the people affected by these tragedies is a beautiful, brave choice to stand, to continue to live in the face of violent death. I am moved by these people. They are the real life Whos down in Who-ville singing in the face of great loss. When we say, Stand with Paris, or Stand with Beirut, we join them–Singing in spite of our heartach, standing with them because life is to be lived, and not to be feared.
When those who intend to ruin the very fabric of our existence, hear us singing, see us living, they, like the Grinch, have not achieved their final end. I see now that the cities that have endured these tragedies need us to stand with them because sometimes it is too hard to stand alone and sing.
So when you change your profile picture, maybe you aren’t changing the world, but you are standing and singing. When you use these hashtags #prayforparis or #prayfortheworld, your are singing. When you keep traveling and embracing people who are different than you are, when you keep smiling– you are singing. The world needs all our voices to combat this kind of evil.