When the news broke that Osama bin Laden was killed, I didn't have a strong immediate reaction. Because I am active on social media, I heard it there first, along with the variety of personal opinions which go along with that territory. As the news continued to gather steam on the internet after Obama's speech, my heart began to sink as I considered how cynical we are as a culture.
I know our world is broken. I don't have to look farther than the inside of my own heart to see that it's true. As I take apart my spiritual beliefs, brick by brick, and get back to the basics of Love God, Love Others, I somehow hoped that this process was happening everywhere, and of course it's not. Violence answers with violence, and the bloody cycle of war and retribution continues, generation after generation, leaving nothing but loss and pain in its wake.
I cringe when I hear reporters state that the war on terror is over now that bin Laden is dead. I feel like weeping when I see people dancing and celebrating when someone is murdered. None of it adds up to me. I was as devastated as anyone when the planes went into the twin towers, but I know that killing one solitary man doesn't guarantee our safety. If anything, it opens up fresh plans for more violent acts.
I took a chance and talked to Ava about bin Laden before she went to school yesterday morning. She is extremely sensitive to issues of safety and violence, and I was afraid that she would hear teachers or students talking about bin Laden and fill in the blanks with her own overactive imagination. I wanted to give her some scaled down information, and provide an opportunity for her to ask questions and talk about any of her concerns.
She dissolved into tears, and had a minor panic attack. I felt awful, and thought I had made a mistake in talking to her, and went down my usual route of self abuse because she was too young to handle some of this information. Eventually the conversation came around to a decision point, and I asked her to decide if she wanted to live in fear, or believe that she is in God's hands. We either believe that he takes care of us always, or he doesn't. It's a simple choice. She drew a few shaky breaths, wiped her wet eyes with the backs of her hands, and said, "I don't want to be afraid." In that moment, I knew she was going to be okay.
We prayed together, and hugged each other, and I wished that I could offer her more than this damaged world we live in. But it is all we have. That we are alive, and safe for today when so many others are not, gives us hope that we will pull through. Confidence in God helps a lot, and so does appreciating those we love and cherish, and understanding that whatever happens, we are all in this together.
She went to school, and my heart felt like a stone in my chest all day. I read comments on Facebook and Twitter, and talked to people, and listened to the chatter on the news and the internet, and I felt bleak about the cynical age we live in, where no one trusts anyone, and character doesn't count for much, and people don't think twice about criticizing others.
Sometimes I feel desperately in need of a glimmer of hope, and when I find optimism and love anywhere, I grab hold and never want to let go. If we are the change we want to see in the world, then the time is now to light a candle and let it burn through the darkness, and just maybe, it will be enough to get us through.