The deaths from bombings and shootings in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad recently are horrendous. A total of 253 people died in these despicable actions. We can be forgiven if we come to believe we are in a world so violent and angry there is little hope we will be able to get away from this kind of behavior.
Adding to this fear is the rise in violence in some of our American cities. Chicago, Baltimore and Indianapolis are all seeing a significant rise in violence. And we wring our hands, worrying what to do.
We cannot drive this madness away by more madness. And that madness is more war and more violence. It has not worked in the nearly 15 years America has been in the Middle East. Further arming ourselves at home has done nothing to stem the number of deaths from violence here in this country. In fact, gun deaths have only increased as the number of guns on the street and in the homes of law-abiding citizens has increased.
So what do we do now? First, we begin to look around and discover the good in our brothers and sisters. It isn’t hard to discover the good in others, if that is what you are seeking. Let me start. I want to share with you some stories. They remind us of the good that is in all of us, no matter where we are from.
I read about a woman who shared herself with another human being and galvanized a whole group to share their love with one another. I believe this occurred in an airport here in the U.S. A woman was wandering this airport, because her flight was delayed. She heard a call on the speaker system for anyone speaking Arabic to report to a certain gate. Because she was of Lebanese descent, she knows Arabic.
It turned out to be the gate where she would catch her flight.
When she arrived at the gate, she found an older woman, in traditional Lebanese dress, slumped on the floor, wailing. Since she spoke no English, no one could find out what was wrong. The first woman began speaking Arabic and, even though her use of Arabic was somewhat poor, the older woman could understand her. It turns out the older woman thought her flight had been canceled and she would not make it to a medical appointment the next day.
After the first woman reassured her she would get to her appointment, the older woman calmed down. As a way of thanking her, she shared some traditional Lebanese food. By the time their flight arrived, all the women on the flight were sharing the food and sharing conversation like old friends. I’m sure the first woman was exhausted by all the translating. Yet, she was buoyed by the amazing events of that day.
A hero of the Beirut bombing was a man who, upon seeing a suicide bomber, threw himself on the bomber and they both were blown up. He saved many people that day, including his son. This kind of selfless love, in the face of horrific violence, is what gives me hope for a better future.
But we are well-served to look closer to home for examples of the kind of loving kindness that can serve us well in reducing the anger and violence in our world. And, we need look no further than our local Walmart for examples. I know that can seem unlikely in such a hectic place.
Three recent examples come to mind. Saturday night, my wife and I were shopping fairly late in the day. We asked one of the staff about an item. The person said she was off work, but took the item and looked for more in the back.
The other examples were from today. When I got in line to pay, the gentleman in front of me emptied my cart, before he finished his transaction. He even offered to help me take my things to my van. While I was loading my van, a woman got out of her SUV and offered to help me load my things in my van.
None of these things will change the world. But they do show we live in a caring world, full of love. I want to finish with the following quote:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Jim Matthews has been a resident of Greenfield and Hancock County, since 1988. He welcomesyour comments at email@example.com.