Detours in Life
Over two decades ago I moved to another part of the country that was heavily populated. As is the case with large metropolitan areas, several of the major thoroughfares were under construction. Detours were in place as roadways were rehabbed, refurbished, and retooled for the increasing number of cars and trucks that traveled them daily. For ten years we followed the detour signs until the detours became more familiar than the actual interstate highway.
The mayhem and chaos of terrorist attacks have once again taken over the international news. The scenes of crowds running, people being sheltered in place, and the all-too-familiar wail of emergency responders replaced the sounds of a busy city this week in Barcelona, Spain.
As is my habit, this blog went dark out of respect for the double-digit number of victims killed and the greater number physically injured. Such events make even the strongest of us want to hide in our houses and crawl under the covers. This is not the time for silence, however. It is a time for action.
The Barcelona attack on Thursday was not an isolated event. Wednesday night a house exploded killing one person in the Spanish town of Alcanar and injuring the firefighters and police who responded to the call. Thursday a white van careened onto a crowded pedestrian mall in Barcelona with the afore-mentioned casualties. Spanish Police on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours. Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as the explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia— were connected and the work of a large terrorist group.
Today crowds chanted “No tinc por” meaning “I’m not afraid” in Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona following the minute silence observed for the victims of the attack in the city. This is not the time to cower, believing our silence will not only save us but prevent future attacks. We need to respect freedom of speech and we can without condoning violence.
Last weekend a rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of the US President Thomas Jefferson. The result was bedlam and the death of three people, one attending a protest rally to the original white supremacist/nep-Nazi rally and the other two law enforcement answering the call to assist in trying to resolve chaos. The events Charlottesville were neither sad nor tragic; they were failure. The so-called supremacists did not act supreme in any way. The other side did not show love for all – emphasize – all. We cannot say we are better if we do not act it. We cannot claim love for all mankind if we only mean we love those we like. At the end of the day, Charlottesville was a lesson in identifying none of us are supreme, right, or seeing the “other” person as equal. It was a mirror reflecting misguided energy.
Instead of traveling to march, we need to walk… walk across town to feed the poor, help the homeless, tutor a child, donate to your community, hold the door and smile at a stranger. The best way to support your vision of and for humanity is to be humane. Instead of spending money on training camps for future terrorists, we should spend money on feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, discovering cures for the illnesses that affect all people.
Nature cannot exist apart from its many segments. The sun dries up the rain as it creates new life. Animals need plants; water needs the soil for filtration. We all have a purpose, not a place. We failed in Charlottesville. The terrorists failed in Spain. No death should be a battle cry. It should become a motivation for us all to be better, to use the life we have to live humanely. We are, after all, human – all of us. What will we choose – chaos or community?
William Faulkner believed as those in Barcelona did today that our best respect for those who have perished is to speak up. “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”