Instead of working, I’m checking the news from Paris every few minutes like me sitting here and freaking out is going to help anybody anywhere.
The world has always been terrible / wonderful. This isn’t new news, it’s old news. It’s pretty much the oldest news there is. I’m trying to remember when I first found out the kinds of things that people do to each other – because my kids don’t know yet. They have no idea. I took them to school this morning – nice schools with big windows and caring teachers – through beautiful snowfall, bundled in their snowsuits, laughing and falling in the snow and catching flakes on their tongues. They are so happy, and they just have no idea, because they are so, so lucky. And eventually (soon? I don’t know) I have to start telling them about the Terrible World, and then we have to have conversations about how to live in it.
Lately I’ve been reading the news and feeling like I don’t know how to swallow the terrible stuff and keep my chin up anymore. That’s ridiculous, of course, what with me being officially the Luckiest Person Alive. But then nobody said anybody had to swallow anything, and nobody really cares whether my chin is up or down. There are homicidal maniacs out there, rampaging around as usual – in Paris, and that’s in the news, but elsewhere too – these men who once upon a time were each somebody’s little sweet-cheeked boy, and who knows what happened to them after that? What went wrong? Now they are out for blood, like they always are.
I don’t have anything to say about it. There was this article that I thought was beautiful and which made me cry and cry. And the incredible Christine Gilbert posted a good piece too, about the Parisian police officer Ahmed Merabet, who died defending the right of Charlie Hebdo to make a mockery of his religion. I’m glad there are articulate and compassionate people talking in nuanced ways about all this but I am getting more pessimistic as I get older and I don’t have any hope of such voices drowning out the angry din.
I live in this bright bubble and it looks so dark and grim outside. But that’s not really true either. Because the world has always been terrible, but it’s always been wonderful too, and it’s not hard to find the bright spots when you find you can’t swallow.
I guess that whenever I tell my kids the story of Hate and Rage and Blind Righteousness, I will try to suggest that we not only live in a bright spot, but we can be a bright spot. We are part of the world, and we can try to give off light. There are a lot of ways to do this – big ways and small ways. Today I am trying to dial back my own rage, and live with my horror and fear, and be kinder. I’m thinking of the victims in Paris, and even those little boys who turned into raving monsters with guns, and while praying is not something I do in general, today I wish that I knew how. If I did, I’d be on my knees, praying for peace and light, the ability to know the world and still be joyful in it, and the strength to spread that joy.