Like millions of other people, I’m heartbroken by what happened in Nice on Bastille Day. I won’t try to find superlatives to describe the sadness and loss. To the people of France, especially those who lost loved ones, please know that people all over the world, and I am among them, stand with you in your grief. May you know peace and healing.
It’s not just France, though. It’s Afghanistan. It’s Bangladesh. It’s Orlando. It’s a lot more, too. We could be forgiven for wondering if we’ve all gone completely mad. I don’t have the answer to that. I do know this, though. Somehow or other, we all need to find ways to deal with everything that’s going on.
I’ve resolved to cope with it all by refusing to hate. I know it seems simplistic. Perhaps naïve. Call it what you will. But here’s the thing. If you listen to the political and public-figure rhetoric, you hear a lot of hate. If you pay any attention to online rhetoric…you hear and read hate. From my perspective (yours may be different), that hate serves only to fuel more hate. And we’ve seen – far, far, too often – where hate leads.
Does this mean we should blindly assume that everyone is a nice person who intends no harm? No. But if we let hate get the better of us, we begin to act on that emotion, rather than on anything productive or beneficial. And as we’ve tragically seen, that fuels the worst that people can do.
At times like these, it’s easy, even seductive, to respond with hateful, fear-driven reactions. Terrible tragedies such as what happened in Nice are so appalling that it’s hard not to feel that way. But I hope that we can remember that we’re human beings. We’re capable of so much more than those kinds of responses. France will not give in or give up because of the hate that caused those deaths. I hope the rest of us also choose not to give in to hate.
Please, as we all deal with the grief, the loss, perhaps the fear that we have, could we also remember that we are human? Of course, part of being human is reaching out to those who are suffering, and offering our support in any way we can. But to me, anyway, it also means refusing to hate. Giving in to hate makes us less human. And once we forget how to be human, or choose to behave in ways that are not human – and humane – we lose part of ourselves. I don’t have to tell you what the consequences of losing our humanity are. That’s why I choose not to stop being human. Even as I grieve, I will not hate.
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s The Great Wall of China.