“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
I understand what Gandhi was saying. The good guys always win. Blah blah blah. Truth and love overcoming evil can be a hard concept to swallow when you awaken to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history; when morning after morning what happened while you were sleeping doesn’t make any sense; when you lose count of how many days you’ve said to your love, “Oh dear, God. It happened again.”
We live in a world that breeds humans without humanity and then hands them guns. Disguised as a retired accountant and the neighbor next door, this particular homegrown symbol of inhumanity exploded from the 32nd floor during a country music concert. And then he killed himself. Does the fact that he’s no longer a threat give us any solace? How can it when there’s a long line of evil wanting and waiting to cause similar harm when and where we least expect it? I don’t feel better. Not one damn bit.
Terrorism walks amongst us in our dance clubs, at concerts, and at church. It attends school with us and works alongside us. It lives two doors down. And that can be terrifying if we let it be. That’s the goal of terrorists, right? That fear and hatred become our way of life, the way we begin each day? Yet, how do we reassure each other when our souls are seeping with grief and marinating horrifying images in our hearts? How do we begin to heal as a people and believe in the world of truth and love that Ghandi preached?
It ain’t easy.
When we see unspeakable things happening to people like us living their beautiful, ordinary lives, it leads us to think the world is not a safe place.
We start believing that we can’t control anything that happens to us and the ones we love. We begin to wonder when it will touch our city, wrap its tentacles around us. Scary stuff. But, where does that leave us? Living in a world filled with fear, suspicion, and despair? Reticent to leave our houses and live our lives?
That’s not the world I want to be a part of. And yet, here we are.
I don’t have a magical response to make anyone feel better on a day like today. With a grand-daughter on the way, I’m having enough trouble picturing that beautiful, innocent and helpless soul living in the wake of a future full of tragedies like Las Vegas. But when we only picture darkness, there’s no room for the light. And oh, how we all need light.
We share this earth with dangerous, hate-filled people. We can’t run from that. Yet, I still believe that most people we walk through life and cross paths with are good and decent. I really do. And that belief is challenged on days like today. But, then I read about the men who shielded their girlfriends from the gunfire, losing their lives in the process. I hear on NPR about the man who helped 20 people over a fence to safety with no regard for his own life, the people who carried the wounded to cars for transport before ambulances arrived. Then there are those good souls working tirelessly for action and reform – doing immediate and tangible things in an attempt to make the world a better place, a safer place, a kinder place. And then I remember. Most people ARE inherently good inside. I know it. I feel it. I see it every day. And I let those images overwhelm my head and heart instead. Because, despite what the world tries to make me believe me about evil, I experience truth and love each day of my life while I’m doing very ordinary things. Gandhi had it right.
It’s our humanity that’s invincible, not evil.
And that shapes my view of the world more than any act of insanity ever could.