15 years ago the soul of this country received a shocking wound. the sky faded dark under ash, confusion and fear. the rug pulled out from under us. and in such a horrific moment we rose. the best of people rose to the surface wading through tears and differences.
it was a shift and an opportunity to stay with the rawness, the tenderness we felt, the feelings that inspired and motivated a sense of connection and community.
but we have forgotten, as we often do, save for special anniversaries set aside to remember. each of those, a chance to start fresh yet again…only to forget again.
“never forget, never again” is fine and well, but let’s really mean it and make it so through our own hearts, words and actions. that’s where the work is that needs to be done, that’s where the real change will begin.
there seems to be more fear and anxiety today and it is stoked by those who would seek gain from this suffering. this has only led to further division.
as we have seen, just naming it or calling it untruth and getting into a battle of words simply leads to more suffering and seems to evoke little or no change.
it is time for a shift. we, each of us, needs to answer the call to heal. using our words, our actions, our very lives to bring benefit to a world thirsty for an end to such suffering. we need to be healers, to be bodhisattvas, shining a light on the alternatives to fear and anxiety, to anger and hate, to division, cynicism, conspiracy and demagoguery, aggression and violence.
this is a journey of heart and mind, so these are what we need to work with.
let’s get to work.
calling all the healers, it is your time…
to those willing to pause before reacting, to breathe before speaking, it is your time…
to those willing to lay down their weapons whether they be guns or words, it is your time…
to those willing to keep their hearts open to vulnerability and their eyes open to pain, it is your time…
this call is for you, the healers – the willing.
those willing to do and embody what is needed now to heal and not further perpetuate suffering. those who are willing to stand in the face of fear, confusion and anger to transform them, rather than be ruled by them.
even as we may understand that there are at times specific needs for military or law enforcement, let us also bring a counter balance to those who call for more guns, more violence, more anger, and more fear.
may we bring healing through our work, through our art, our words, our every breath.
“We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.” – Omid Safi
BY OMID SAFI(@OSTADJAAN), ON BEING COLUMNIST
Friends keep asking me where we find hope in these turbulent times. We don’t. We don’t find hope. We generate it.
Hope is like sanctity and community. Hope doesn’t descend down to us from heaven. It rises to heaven from right here on Earth.
As Warsan Shire says, it hurts everywhere, everywhere. As Parker Palmer says, even the healers are wounded healers.
We need to have a national and global conversation about faith that prepares us to carry on the work of healing so that we can be prepared when these atrocities hit us. This is the new normal. There are going to be Paris attacks, Beirut attacks, Baghdad attacks, Nigeria attacks, and more in the months and years to come. The work of healing is needed now, more than ever.
The atrocities are “events.” The healing has to be an ongoing, everyday journey. This healing work actually has to come before the atrocities, through the atrocities, and after the atrocities.
We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.
We’re simply, by necessity, now in an era of global processes of healing. As others have said, we’re all wounded, so we’re wounded healers now.
Everyone hurts — though not all hurt in the same way. Everyone has a role in healing — though not everyone is ready to heal.
turn, as I do so often, to the very heart of our faith traditions for hope. I remember the Qur’an saying that the ease, the healing, comes not after the difficulty but with it.
We cannot wait to be wounded before we turn to heal. We have to anticipate the healing, generate the healing, raise up the healing.
I remember Rumi’s words:
The wound is where the light enters you.
I see wounds. I see the wounded. And I see the wounders (who often carry their own wounds).
In an age when violence is broadcast widely, when the quickest way to fame is to say something vacuous and pungent How do we make the healing visible? How do we recover love as a public virtue? In the midst of this tragedy, I keep searching for hope, still my own heart to keep generating hope For myself For my children For all of us Where do we find hope? Mostly hope, courage, resistance are invisible. Hope’s never linear, rarely public, usually tender and private. Every now and then, we see examples of hope that become visible.
I want to shine a light on these moments — to remember, to rejuvenate, to recall — when the goodness shines on through, and reminds us of the need to keep generating hope.
Let me share one such moment from Paris. The moment of light is from a husband, Antoine Leiris, whose wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed in the attacks. In his response, there is grace and dignity. It reminded me of Mamie Till, holding an open-casket funeral for her son Emmett, both for the world to see her suffering become public, and also to say that she had no time to hate, and would devote herself steadfast to seeking justice.
The husband released a statement to the ISIS terrorists: You have taken away the love of my life, a beautiful woman. You seek to get me to hate you, but I will not give you that satisfaction. I will not give you the satisfaction of having your hatred be mirrored in my heart. You, and your action, will not determine the kind of human being I will strive to be.
Here’s the transcript of the message from the husband, posted on Facebook. The original message was in French, here is an English translation:
“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.
I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know — you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
Here is what we often do not understand about the power of nonviolence in an uber-violent world. Nonviolence is not so much about “turning the other cheek” or responding to violence with a refusal to return violent action. That is simply the start. It is, simply, the minimum. It is actually more profound, as the widower husband says:
“So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.”
Real nonviolence is the adamant insistence that we will choose to live a life of dignity, beauty, and meaning. That we will not get drowned in a whirlpool of hatred and violence.
The father ends by saying that he would say more, but that he has to go take care of his toddler, a toddler that now only has one parent to raise him.
Yes, we have children to raise,
parents to love,
friends to hug,
neighbors to reach out to,
inner-cities to heal,
and refugees to shelter.
There is real work to be done, genuine healing, which we have to generate.
The truth is actually much harder, and more beautiful than a simple refusal to return violence for violence. That would be akin to cursing a dark night already devoid of stars.
To curse the darkness, to bring more anger and rage into this world, is to let the terrorists win. It is to let the terror inside our own hearts win.
Healing begins by a commitment to letting light shine. We have to generate this light, this hope this healing and mirror it to each other. Let your light shine. Let’s heal each other, fellow wounded healers. We are in this together. http://www.onbeing.org/blog/omid-safi-where-do-we-find-hope-after-paris/8164