I contemplated not writing at all today. My thoughts are the opposite of joyous. My conscious spirit of peace and goodwill toward others right now is dimmed. I’m scared and angry and frustrated.
I read people saying things about how unsafe today’s world is. And I agree. It’s unsafe. But I felt this same way after Columbine. And Virginia Tech. And Arizona when Rep. Giffords was shot. And Aurora, Colorado. To name only a few examples. So are we really less safe? And if we are, how and when will we change our mindset, healthcare system, legislation, culture to at the very least improve so many factors that contribute to these horrific outcomes? Nothing changed after any of the other events mentioned. Why start now?
Others are saying how events like yesterday are a test of faith. I agree, again. My faith has been tested. It’s not my faith in God. The belief I hold, admittedly theologically simple and unsophisticated, is that for every dominant force in the world, its opposite exists. For happiness, sadness. For love, hate. For courage, fear. For good, evil. The God I believe in pulls us toward the positive. Humans make choices.
And once again, yesterday, a human made the wrong choice.
So, my faith, not in God, but in people, is once again shaken.
As William Styron wrote in Sophie’s Choice “The most profound statement yet made about Auschwitz was not a statement at all, but a response. The query: ‘At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?’ And the answer: ‘Where was man?'”
I am working today to maintain a state of trust and balance, yes, for my own sake, but also for that of my child, my most precious treasure, who looks to me for security, stability, and perseverance. I cannot teach him that there will always be more to love and enjoy in the world than to dread and despise if I don’t strive to believe that myself. I told him last night to think of the wonderful things the world, that life can offer. While I ended the conversation with him at that, my purpose in encouraging him to focus on the good is because dwelling on the negative leads to numbness, and numbness leads to complacency, and complacency enables the passive tolerance of what is instead of the active consideration of what could be.
Actions ultimately matter more than thoughts. But actions start with thoughts. Right at this moment, to cope, I am directing my own thoughts to reflect on human kindness–an event when people came together to try to help instead of hurt one another.
So I am posting today’s charity record by Band Aid, a song that affected people of my generation directly by helping us, even briefly, to consider the “world outside your window.” Scoffers and cynics will argue how money from “Do They Know It’s Christmas” never got to the poor, that funds may have been misused, that Bob Geldof and others were just seeking publicity. Maybe. But good also came of this song and continues to be somewhat derived from it. Just this week, musicians gathered together in a charity concert to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Band Aid certainly was not the first time that rock stars used their status to call attention to a cause. Nevertheless, since Band Aid, music as a source of activism, intervention, and assistance to those in trouble has been largely ongoing. And helpful to many people.
My blog isn’t remotely changing the world. In fact, few people take notice of it, and I have no illusions that it will be remembered for long by those interested in it after this holiday. But I hold a desire to never fully give in to despair. To never give up on the idea that the world can be better. That people can do things that will have long-term beneficial ramifications.
The one holiday song that best exemplifies these ideas, for me, is “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”