In the days since the attacks on Paris, I have watched my social media streams explode in two directions.
The one includes demonstrations of support for the victims. Messages of love and commiseration. Prayers for a peaceful future. Shared tears of loss, both physical and spiritual.
But while these messages may represent the majority in my social circle, there are others that I find disturbing. Others that by their tone and content seem all the larger.
I have been surprised and dismayed by the venoms of hate and anger that blots my timelines. Friends and family spewing abhorrent messages against Islam, against innocent refugees, against anyone who does not look or sound like them.
And although I am not the target of these comments—my timeline merely one poster board on which these messages are painted—they cause me pain. They trigger anger and even fear within me. I want to lash out, to attack.
But I cannot.
These are not discussions of logic that can be ameliorated by a well-considered series of facts. And lashing out would accomplish nothing. Spewing venom on top of venom only makes the world more toxic.
Instead, I must respond with love.
At the same that I extend my arms to embrace my like-minded friends suffering in the aftermath of the insanity, so too must I embrace those who I feel are piling on to the tragedy, exacerbating the fear, the hate, the pain.
They too are uneasy and uncertain about the future. They too are confused and frightened about the prospect of these events unfolding again and closer to home. They too need comforting and a renewed sense of security.
While the words these people write and speak may be abhorrent to me, they themselves are not. And difficult as it may be at times, in the face of my own pain and fear, I must always remember that.
And so, I open my arms to everyone, and will myself take solace in the return embrace.
I truly believe that this is the only way.
Peace and love to you all.