Most of us are reflecting on the senseless acts of bloodshed and hatred that occurred in Paris this past Friday. We are questioning the increasing violence throughout the world. We are wondering how we can possibly keep our families safe from harm. We are thinking about the fleeting nature of life, how it can be taken in a moment without any notice.
The easy answer, the answer that makes the most sense, seems to be to fight back. Take up arms, rally the troops, ready the bombs and blow the enemy to bits. It seems simple; how can there be more attacks if the enemy has been obliterated?
The more challenging, less often considered measure is to amplify the philosophy of love and acceptance. Improve our attitudes; teach tolerance, kindness, and peace. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just not being the same as everyone else.
People call for closing our borders in order to protect us from terrorists. I can’t say that this doesn’t sound like a simple and solid plan – just don’t let them in and we will be safe. However, it really isn’t that simple. Too often the people we’re turning away are people fleeing the same enemies who are trying to blow us up. A percentage of those people we turn away then start to fill with hate themselves. Maybe the terrorist are right, they ponder- the world really is a bad place. This hate then grows and is passed down to their children and the generations that follow. One little kernel of abhorrence becomes five within just a decade or two.
No, we must show them kindness; teach them that the world is not a place full of vitriol, but a place full of acceptance. Kindness breeds more kindness in all scenarios. Show the bully a little love and suddenly he is your best friend. The person who is stealing from you to feed his family- maybe if he was provided with some safety and compassion with which to discuss his problems he would not have to end up stealing. Shoot him as a home invader and his children learn that it’s a cruel and unfair world, one that is indeed not safe for people like them. They learn that violence is the only way to protect themselves and each other. Had that family been given shelter and food, maybe they would have learned that care and giving exist, and if they too are kind a better world can be made for them.
The only defense against hate is love. We must prove the haters wrong; show them that they don’t need to use violence. As parents it begins with us. We must teach our children tolerance, love, giving, and kindness. We must teach them to open their hearts to all walks of life. Show them that hate has no place in this world. Race, religion, sexual orientation, mental health, physical health, etc. they are all inconsequential as long as you are a good person with a strong heart. We must create our own army- an army of soldiers who fight with care and approval.