This is a sacred time of year. For Christians it is Holy Week, an occasion to remember the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He walked among us as a human being but many of us believe that He was truly the Son of God. He attempted to teach us how to live with one another. His message was simple but so difficult to follow. He only asked us to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves. He showed us how to do this by example. He modeled the behavior that He wanted us to also have. In the end even this good man who had done no harm to anyone was sentenced to death, executed like a criminal. In a last act of extreme compassion He forgave the thief who was penitent and the people who were responsible for killing Him. He commended His spirit into the hands of God, His Father. He died for all of us, not just some. We sometimes forget that He was so inclusive.
We have suffered of late. We see the work of terrorists and we wonder what we can do, what we must do. We are shaken. We want to answer hate with love but we worry that to do so is naive and will only make things worse. Then again, we cringe at the idea of anger and force, even understanding that sometimes it is the only way to be safe. We are confused. In our anxious state of mind we strike out at one another. We attempt to find someone or some group to blame for what is happening. We exclaim that our leaders have let us down. Our hearts are sickened and we want to ignore the problems but we know that to do so will solve nothing. It is a dilemma and we worry that the path that we choose may be wrong.
The people of Belgium have been struck by terror. It wasn’t supposed to happen. They have been good, open, compassionate. Those who died were only going about their daily lives. They were taking care of business, planning vacations or holidays, just doing their work. When they awoke on the morning of the attack they never dreamed that they might not come home. That is the whimsy of life. We never know from one moment to the next what may befall us. Hopefully we will have mended fences, kissed those that we love, done our best when the end comes. Our existence is fragile.
The world grieves with the citizens of Belgium. But for chance it might just as easily have happened in our own city. We understand that we were lucky this time but wonder if there will be a next and where it will be. We want to show strength and courage so we go about our daily lives but in the back of our heads a little voice is urging us to be watchful. Our concern takes a bite out of our joy. We feel a discomfort that we dislike.
It is part of our nature as humans to want to solve problems. Sometimes our conclusions take the form of accusations. We feel a need to place blame on someone for not keeping us more secure. We begin to play a game of “if only.” The truth is that we all realize that nobody is so omniscient that they can predict and prevent every tragedy. The nature of terror is surprise. It is designed specifically to make us nervous. It is a power play by evil ones whose only desire is to rid themselves of anyone who will not bow to their demands and beliefs. They laugh when they see us scurrying in fear.
We have for too long placed blame on the wrong people. Our President is not responsible for what is happening nor are the men and women of Congress. Our troubles are not caused by immigrants whose only desire is to build better lives for their children. It is not gay and lesbian individuals who are a threat to our society. The police are not our enemy nor are those who serve in the military. Neither democrats nor republicans wish these terrible acts on us. The vast majority of Christians, Jews and Muslims are good people just like us who only want the right to live quiet lives with their chosen God. We waste our breaths when we fight with one another. We are not the enemy but the true hostile forces enjoy seeing us argue. The fact is that we will never defeat the murderous groups of this world until we unite in a spirit of brotherhood.
Those who think that our country is somehow going to hell are wrong. We are as good as we have ever been but far too many of us have lost our way. Truly honest and well intentioned men and women are being pilloried for attempting to solve the problems of society. Compromise is an ugly word. We want to burn down the institutions that have served us for over two hundred years. Ours is an imperfect government, but which isn’t? We have slowly but surely repaired the areas that were wrong from our beginnings. Even with work to do we still have a firm foundation. Instead of whining and hurling insults at those with whom we disagree we need to draw ever closer together. If we don’t our enemies will most assuredly get the best of us.
I find it incredibly difficult to find a politician with whom I wholeheartedly agree. For that matter there are few people who even come close to thinking just like me. I am certain that this is true for most of us. I learned when I was working that on most occasions I had to compromise. I gave a little to get a little. I always understood that I did not have all of the answers but neither did anybody else. The most important thing was that we developed a common goal. I understood that reaching that goal would take a multiplicity of ideas. Any organization is ultimately stronger when it possesses a diversity of thinking. It is time for all of us to show a little respect for opinions that are very different from our own. If we don’t agree to come together our true enemies will take advantage. Our weakness is not to be found in a certain political ideology but within our own unwillingness to be honest and open with one another.
It was not George W. Bush’s fault that New York City was attacked in 2001. It was not Barack Obama’s fault that there have been other incidents of terrorism. Guns are not the cause of violence in our country, but rather a culture of unwillingness to listen to the cries for help that come from those whose minds have become desperately sick. We must agree to understand those women who feel that it is their right to control whether or not a baby grows in their wombs as well as those who believe with every fiber of their being that abortion is murder. Our Christians must think about the message that Jesus gave us and ask themselves if their faith is truly Christlike or if it is hateful. Muslims must speak out against those in their ranks who have desecrated a beautiful religion.
The sound and the fury that is building ever stronger around us is drowning out the message that this Holy Week should bring to us all. We are brothers and sisters, one and the same when stripped of the external characteristics of our skin and our hair and all of the things that really don’t matter. It is past time for those on the right and those on the left to come together for the sake of the country. In the end none of us really care about parties and bases. We simply want to find a modicum of peace and tranquility on this earth. Surely our leaders will learn to work together if we all join hands and ask them to do so.
I understand that my dreams are naive and that evil exists in our midst and probably always will. History has shown us again and again that if our intentions are noble and honest that we will ultimately wipe out the forces that plot against us. If we truly want to make a difference it is time for all of us to embrace diversity of thought and person. It is not those who would divide us that we should support but those who will bring us together.