The last week has been rough, especially since the Paris shootings which took place this past Wednesday (also my son Jack’s tenth birthday). If you are not aware, the satirical newspaper office of Charlie Hebdo was attacked by gunmen who shot 12 specific unarmed people as well as an officer. The very next day there was another attack at a grocery store in east Paris. I’ve seen and read the reactions from people around the world, and it makes me feel a little bit of comfort that people are acknowledging the senselessness of this act of terrorism. However, and in all honesty, I have been wondering why we always see reactions to something like this when there are acts of terrorism all over the world that don’t receive any attention at all. I have spent time meditating and trying to understand but I truly cannot comprehend the force behind the act. I understand the basics of it. What I don’t get is the mentality, the blind fanaticism, that forces people to kill others, innocents and umarmed, and to endorse and pass on this way of thinking and living to others.
Maybe I don’t understand because I live in a country that hasn’t been rocked by terrorism as much as others. Though, this does not mean that we have not received our share of terror-and I’m not just remembering the Sept. 11th attacks in 2001. I remember the Oklahoma City bombings. I’ve even visited the memorial and spent the entire time with tears streaking my face. There was the Austin Suicide Attack where a man flew a plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas in 2010. There was the Boston Marathon bombings, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack where six people were killed and some injured, including a police officer, the Pentagon attack…I could go on. Truth is, terrorist attacks have been happening in America since the Revolution. There really isn’t a country that hasn’t seen terrorism in one form or another. I think for the most part I am fortunate enough to live in a country that experiences peace more so than others. Our society may not get along very well when politics or religion are concerned but I like to think that our first thoughts aren’t about killing someone just because they happen to draw cartoons making fun of beliefs. And let’s be honest, satire has been around for a very long time. Go read some of Benjamin Franklin’s satirical articles for example. And I’ve been reading the editorial cartoons since I was little. I may not have understood the nuances contained therein, but I did understand that they were mocking people in power or events the general public might have spun out of context. I would never have thought they would be inflammatory enough to cause someone to want to go to the newspaper offices and murder people.
Hate and murder have always lived with us, we just tend to ignore it like ostriches hiding our heads in the sand. If we ignore it, it doesn’t exist. At least, not until something happens that makes the media take notice and brings it to the attention of the rest of the world. This is now the world we live in, and the world our children are inheriting. How powerless are we to stop this kind of thing from happening?
For the last few days I have been quiet, ruminating on things and trying to make sense out of senseless acts. And I’ve decided to stop. There is no sense in it so I am not going to waste any more energy trying to understand why it happened. Instead, I am going to go sit my children down and try to explain to them that there is just no knowing why people are the way they are, not really, but we should still love them and hold onto to what’s most important even when everything else is gone-Hope.
All my love to the families and friends of anyone ever involved in any act of terrorism. And all my love to you, my dear friends.
The Sin of Cain
By Jessica Scott
They groan or yell in anger, annoyance, or frustration.
One begins, then another, until the noise becomes painful in volume,
And intensity of emotions running high causes physicality
Of bodies to become a threat of violence.
Objects fly to hit tender flesh, marking it
With anger’s brand: the purple and black bruise
That denotes the release of hostilities
No longer held in check, vehement in their righteous indignation.
Even the calm voice of reason cannot prevent
The destructive force of hatred once begun;
Then blood is drawn, and we return
To the beginning of brother against brother.
By Jessica Scott
What do you write about when you can’t think of anything?
I sit here and type but nothing feels “right”.
Do you know what I mean?
There are any number of subjects to expound upon:
love, family, the phone vibrating on my desk with some notification
that a friend is wanting my attention, the Paris shootings of the satirists (for which I am still
at a loss-how do you react to yet another attack when the world is filled with them
one after another? I am numb and cold and confused, tears sit unshed at the
senselessness of it all and the brutality with which humanity is capable of-Cain’s sin
alive and well and flourishing. )
I sit silent then, with nothing but the noises a house makes in the cold of the night.
My cat knocks something soft from its place and I hear the thump of it falling onto the carpet.
Still, there is nothing.
I am empty, and wish to be filled.
By Jessica Scott
I pull words from the air,
Like picking apples from a tree, or berries from a bush.
This one and this one, that one there, another and another,
Until my basket is full.
These words are mine, and I know how to use them
With great skill.
So what shall I do with these words of mine?
Shall I build empires only to destroy them,
Watch them burn?
Shall I build dreams and watch them fade away?
Shall I use them in ignorance, or to spread lies?
Shall I encourage dissonance and hate-mongering?
Distraction, confusion, hurt or grief?
Those words are yours.
You may use them and twist them to your own ends.
But these words…
These words are mine,
And they begin, and end, with love.