No, I'm not going all Mufasa on you. Okay, actually, maybe I am. So some crazy shit went down in Paris, France this weekend. And in Beirut, Lebanon. Suicide bombings, senseless violence. Murder. Death. As we've seen when tragedy strikes--be it hurricanes, terrorists or other disasters--these things can bring out the best of us. People coming out of retirement to be volunteer first responders. Cab drivers giving Parisians a free ride home. Hashtags or social media sites that help victims. Tips on how to deal with tear gas shared to people in Ferguson from people in Egypt.
There's something else that happens when we're faced with the worst life has to offer. We open ourselves up and remember that we're all in this together. After 9/11, people seemed to think more before they jumped to shouting at strangers. The little annoyances were thrown into sharp relief as petty shit because life is too damn short. We open ourselves up to be part of the greater whole of humanity. Though the borders of our countries may tighten up, the walls we've erected between ourselves fall away and for a shining time we remember that it doesn't matter what country you're from, what deity you worship or who you love.... we're all people. We're all people just trying to get through life, have families (or not), be happy, follow our path in a way that brings honor to our self, our loved ones, our heritage and (if applicable) our god. We're all trying to be the best version of ourselves.
And for a moment, when events like this show us how terrible humanity can be to itself, it also reminds us of ourselves. For a moment, we see the best of us.
But this kind of thing inevitably brings out the worst in us. The xenophobic, bigoted, crass commentary. Those who would use tragedy to further their own campaigns. Those who would claim that this is some sort of justice done.Those who claim that it's business as usual in such a barbaric region.
Innocent people being murdered where they sit enjoying dinner is not justice. Women being kidnapped and forced into slavery is not justified. People being terrorized by yet another bombing is not business as usual.
What the hell, guys? The people who do the unthinkable...be they IS militants or school shooters or genocidal dictators...they are fringe elements. They are spinoffs of our societies. They are driven by fear, anger and hate.
Do not join them.
When I see Facebook friends or family members or political pundits or presidential hopefuls spout off in the wake of such events as we saw this weekend, I am sad. Jeb Bush says we should only take Christian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks. Ted Cruz says that the attacks were proof that Christianity is "under siege". (Way to make it all about you and be totally tone deaf, assholes.) And there are any number of abominable things that I refuse to repeat here.
When I see these reactions, I understand them. When this shit happens, we FEEL. We feel impotent anger, frustration, despair. People channel it in different ways. Some people give blood, or join the Red Cross or other charities to physically help rebuild. Some people give money to relief organizations or put together care packages to send overseas. We blog and go to our YouTube channels to talk and try to make sense of these roiling emotions.
And other people spew their fear-based bile.
And I can't stand it. I just want to smack them with a fish and say REMEMBER! Remember who you are! You are the adult version of someone who once wrote their address with "Earth" and "The Universe" tagged on the end. You once knew you were more than just a citizen of a single arbitrary state, but a citizen of the world! You are more than an American or a Parisian. You are more than a Christian or an atheist! You are more than gay or straight. You are more than the labels men have made to divide and categorize. You are star stuff. You are the product of hope and love, passion and chaos. You are part of something far greater than a mere country, you are a citizen of the UNIVERSE! You knew that once! You knew that you could do good for your fellow human.
Why is it so hard to remember?
Do not give in to fear. Go beyond the anger.
Be better. We need you to be better, man. It's the worst of us that brought about the bombings in Paris and Lebanon. Don't add to it by angling for a soundbite or spouting off on social media.
You have the capacity to shine with the best humanity has to offer: compassion, strength, wisdom. Remember that.