Yesterday was a big day in my own personal world. Early afternoon, I clicked “send” on an email to my publishing company. To which was attached the manuscript for the book I’ve written. The book is called Available Hope, and it is a spiritual memoir of sorts of what its like to be a parent (or to be anyone who cares for children) in a post 9/11 and mostly messed up world.
I was half-relieved, half-sad to see my little manuscript speed off into cyberspace. It’s been with me a lot these last few months–like a stray dog you’ve taken in and who doesn’t quite trust she’s not going to be dumped out on the street at any moment. Attached. Always around. Constantly on my mind.
What will I do now?!? (Seriously, I’m open to suggestions!)
Available Hope, its called. I type those words with a cynical shake of my head, feeling almost disingenuous–because today I am finding hope very, very hard. And here’s why: I have never in my life been more disappointed with humanity than I am today.
Honestly, I feel like we just suck at being human these last few days. Certainly falling far short of beloved beings who were created to be in relationship, to live life together.
Between the plane that went down in Egypt last month, and the suicide bombings in Beirut last week, and the attacks just after that in Paris, almost 400 people have died at the hands of ISIS (and this doesn’t count any other lives they’ve destroyed in between all this that hasn’t made the news). This is an awful, terrible, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking thing. No bones about it. I’m sick with grief and fear if I let myself dwell on it all too long.
And I want the people responsible hunted down. And made to stop. I want this so much that I almost don’t even care how it happens. (There. I said it.)
But dear merciful God, I also want peace. Desperately. For children everywhere. For all of us. No matter what that takes, too.
I wish I knew a way forward. I wish anyone did. But I don’t. We don’t. Not yet anyway. And so we fall like pack of starving wolves on a raw steak, only we fall on each other, ripping and tearing at each other with biting sarcasm and false accusations and assumptions about people who are different than us and posturing with such god-awful arrogance about the things that we are so damn sure are right.
This is precisely what the sort of evil ISIS propagates wants. They do not care if we live or die or stop them or don’t. And in our fear of this truth, we are destroying ourselves.
In a thousand ways, we are destroying ourselves:
- By posting half-truths, exaggerations and out-of-date information on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media platform we’ve got going…
- By targeting thousands of innocent refugees, men and women fleeing for their lives and their children’s lives as the problem, as the source of evil…
- By assuming every woman in hijab or every man with dark skin is out to get us, is “the enemy”…
- By standing behind the false security of our precious first-world beliefs about what it means to love God and follow Jesus, and in doing so, say and do some of The. Most. unloving things imaginable…
- By being all-too-quick to sacrifice the lives of our men and women in uniform, when we can’t even take care of the ones who’ve already served us well and are trying to rebuild their lives back home…
- By assuming that politicians can save us…
Y’all. I am a Christian. But I swear on the faith that I’ve known all my life (one, by the way, that is based on a refugee family seeking asylum on a dark and cold and lonely and scary night). that I am not the kind of Christian who will turn away a refugee seeking life. Nor will I condemn the devout faiths of my Muslim or Jewish or Hindu brothers and sisters. Because I believe with all that I am that God works in ways I don’t have a clue about, and I also believe that above all else, beyond any other thing, we were created, first, to love.
In our fear and anguish of these last few days, we have forgotten this. And it will be our undoing as a human race if we do not set aside our hate and seek a path of understanding, forgiveness, mercy and love.
I want no part of judgment. No part of blood-thirst for vengeance. No part of your half-baked ideas of how to combat the situation we find ourselves in.
I want us to stop screaming and listen. I want us to stop yelling and speak quietly about our fears and how we might face them. I want us to stop criticizing anyone who might be in a position to help us through this and instead ask, “How can we support you?” I want us to stop the madness of it all before it obliterates us all.
For the peace of wild things, for the love that created us, for the mercy that makes this life we live possible…for these things I long…I pray…I hope.
And if you’re with me…well, I think we have a far better chance of standing together in love than standing together in fear. And, also…if you’re with me…we might both find a way to hope that this ugly chaos will consume itself, and we’ll see a way through to the other side.