“Peace” by Mariam Askanani on Flickr
Last night, we heard the news we’ve been waiting to hear for almost ten years. He’s dead. Immediate reaction? “Finally, the bastard’s dead. Is it Castro’s turn yet?” What do you expect? I’m Cuban-American.
But, I’ve gotten some sleep, I’ve read the news, I’ve read all sorts of reactions, and I’ve been thinking so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the people who suffered because of this man’s hate-filled agenda and I’m not just talking about the victims of 9/11. I hope they feel something positive today—whether it be some sort of peace or relief or closure or whatever else they want to feel while at the same time dealing with the negative feelings and memories stirred up by his name. I know it’s not the end of their suffering. His death doesn’t bring loved ones back to life. His death doesn’t grow back limbs restore brain function or cleans lungs. His death doesn’t erase trauma. His death doesn’t fix relationships torn asunder by stress, grief, or illness. His death doesn’t even ease the partisan tension in our own government his actions sparked into a relentless roar that has become swollen and bloated and beyond the scope of remembering what it was all about to begin with. So I hope there is some sort of comfort for them especially as he and images of his destruction are plastered everywhere you turn.
Also, I’ve been thinking about the importance of individuals—apart and together. This man had money. This man had passion. This man had ideas. This man had plans. However, most importantly this man had people. This man had believers. This man had followers. This man had hiders. This man had secret-keepers. This man didn’t operate with paid mercenaries from an alien race. He operated with people with passion and conviction and determination—excellent qualities turned deadly in the absence of love and peace.
Ever since I was a child, the Golden Rule has been important to me. More than any idea of gods, systems of beliefs, or words of faith the simple idea to treat others as you would have them treat you just makes sense. It is logical and pure and simple. It’s even in physics—for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. If we all made a concerted effort to embrace this simple notion, what a wonderful world it would be. I understand anger. I understand hate. I understand revulsion. I understand frustration. I understand vengeance. These are extremely powerful motivators. But, if before you acted on these motivators you really considered your actions may be returned to you and/or your loved ones—would you act to the harshest degree you envisioned? Would you act negatively at all?
There are cruel people in this world. There are self-serving, egotistical, hate-filled people in this world. They’re everywhere. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors with varying degrees of wealth, status, and power. People like this don’t appeal to the Golden Rule. They appeal to motivators. As long as we are able to envision what the receiving end is like, as long as we practice empathy, the motivators are empty. These people strip away love from those they are trying to convert. They empty your soul of peace and charge it with restless anger.
I am happy for President Obama and the armed forces. We all know what a sense of accomplishment, relief, and confidence slashing off the biggest most giant item on your To-Do list can bring. I have no problems with celebrating the first big piece of welcome news this nation has had in a long while. But I also hope we learn, we remember, we understand.
“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”