Returning to the Light: Thoughts on our response to terror
I can’t seem to squelch the queasiness in my stomach lately. It is ever present. It’s gnawing away at me like a mouse trying to get inside a warm space because it’s cold outside. But when there’s a hole between a warm space and a cold place, the cold always creeps in through the hole. It chills the warmth, vanquishes the flame. The mouse has to burrow further and further inside to find warmth.
That’s how my stomach feels now. The gnawing doesn’t stop, it just nudges deeper and deeper, inching up towards my heart, the pump that delivers warmth to the rest of me. The chill creeps in. But it’s not a mouse of course. It’s grief and anger and frustration. It’s pain. It’s a deep sense of helplessness.
People are dying and there is no one to rescue them. WMD’s are being wielded by every kind of terrorist–those who terrorize, whomever they would be, and those who destroy to promote their agenda, whatever it may be.
There is no difference between organized terrorists who recruit others to form armies of weak minded glory-seeking angry people on the fringes of society, and the lone guns who are seeking the same release. There is no racial distinction that makes one act of terror darker than another. They are all darkness and they are all deeply disturbing and murderous.
Every completed act of terror spreads it’s destructive force far beyond the initial victims. The power of malevolence to inspire more terror, to promote the extremist point of view, to create fear and panic which gives rise to the reactionary backlash–is just the result a terrorist hopes for. It’s like a nuclear explosion. The initial blast is horrifically destructive and garners a lot of attention, but the long term effects reach out almost silently and spread poison by raining down radioactive ash, like snow, which gets carried on the wind, encircling the globe. The poisonous effect is often unseen, barely detected, but it’s still there. It gnaws away at the health of the planet for generations.
Every act of mass murder diminishes the beauty of life on earth. It steals from the survivors–all of us. It’s so hard not to become hard. Bitterness seeps in with the grief and the sense of helplessness creates frustration which degrades into anger. That’s where I am right now. I’m in a dark place. I want to rant and hate and lash out. I want to drink a bottle of rum and go to bed and suck my thumb. I want to leave this world with all it’s pain and sail away into a happy place. None of which would help, except the latter, which is a fantasy and would do nothing for anybody but me.
But always, out of the ashes of the destructive blast there are people crawling towards the light and love that is the center of our humanity. There are people gnawing through the cold walls of pain to get to the warmth again. Gnawing, gnawing and burrowing deeper and deeper, reaching towards the heart, to the pump that delivers warmth to the rest of us. And it’s our responsibility to follow them back to the light. Put aside the bottle. Try to find real solutions. Reason together. Be helpful. It’s what we need to do now. What I need to do.
Otherwise the darkness wins. It’s not what the terrorists hope for. It’s not how they win the war. It’s how we win the war. It’s how we go on.