I woke up this Saturday to the tragic news of the Paris attacks that claimed nearly 130 human lives and couldn’t believe what I was reading. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I scrolled through the articles on my newsfeed as the numbers crawled higher and higher, wondering why this continues to happen. The media repeatedly churned out the phrase “scores of victims executed” as journalists detailed the horror and agony that arose in the nation’s capital.
Just two days before, hundreds of civilians were wounded in a suicide bombing attack in Lebanon’s capital, killing an upward of 50 human beings. Lest we forget the bombings at a funeral in Baghdad this week, the multiple terror incidents in Nigeria commited by Boko Haram this year alone, Mexico’s ongoing gruesome narco violence, the recent bombings in Ankara or the Garissa University massacre in Kenya this past April – all of these are undeniably disregarded by the mass media, but that doesn’t make them any less significant.
No matter the incident, each time it is the same. All of these news events generate the same key buzzwords the media produces again and again: terrorism, bomb, violence, death, dead, hate group, wounded, killed, attack…the list goes on.
These relentless and incomprehensible acts of violence generate feelings of anger, sadness, fear and confusion across the globe. We watch the world crumble around us – the foundation of everything we ever knew cracking beneath our feet as we wonder how people can be so hateful, so violent and so corrupt. We point fingers at religious groups and box innocent people into categories demeaning their rights as global citizens. We update our Facebook statuses, call our families, think about it and hang our heads in sorrow. We feel weak. We feel small. We feel helpless. And justifiably so.
On November 17, 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a powerful sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. King’s words ignited passion among his followers. They listened as he told them the philosophy of love that came as second nature to him.
While it may be impossible to completely and utterly morph the world into an understanding of world peace (and it is), it’s noble to try to feel compassionate toward those whom we have absolutely no connection to. King’s timeless speech given nearly six decades ago focuses on his desire for everyone to come together to recognize that our world can only thrive if we learn to love and respect one another.
“And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.
So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed.” – Martin Luther King Jr. Loving Your Enemies, 1957
In these times of hardships, let’s try to focus on supporting one another. Let’s think about everyone affected by these tragedies – not just the incidents that affect our backyards. Let’s think about the refugees, the families, the victims, the rescuers and the community members who continue to be affected by these ongoings on a regular and not-so-regular basis.
We may not feel more powerful than those who commit these horrific crimes, but that doesn’t mean we should stop showing our support for all humankind across the world. Pray for Paris. Pray for the world. Pray for kindness. Pray for understanding. Be that understanding and kindness that you want to see.