“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers
It’s hard to believe that yesterday at this time, sleet, rain and snow flurries were taking turns smacking against the windows. It was gray, cold and dreary – a typical November day in our area of the world. Twenty-four hours later, the sun is streaming through the windows of a pretty late-fall day, and as I had let the dog back in the house, I could hear the comforting bells chiming at the church a block away.
Life goes on the day after.
It’s hard to believe that yesterday at this time, my focus was on completing a to-do list that included editing, writing and social media for clients, setting appointments, paying bills and cleaning a dog-fur-covered house. The routine was therapeutic and I felt so great accomplishing so much of what needed to be done. As I wrapped up the work day by checking client statuses, my news feeds starting blowing up with photos of the Eiffel Tower.
What? After an afternoon of writing, editing, listening to music and podcasts, I was completely oblivious to what was going on in the world. It didn’t take much digging to see the horrific news coming out of France. All of a sudden, I was flashing back to the events here on September 11, 2001, and I knew that none of our lives would ever be the same.
At first I was horrified, and then I was angry and disgusted. So many innocent people out enjoying their evening and they are gunned down; bombs going off; screaming, pandemonium. Another damn terrorist attack. Not. Freaking. Again!
My grief and horror gave way to intense anger almost immediately. I was angry that a terrorist attack happened again, and I was angry it happened to a city that is on my vacation bucket list. I was angry that so many victims were dead. I was angry so many were injured. I was angry that little children would be afraid to go to bed. I was angry that people who were on their dream vacation were living a nightmare. I was angry that people living their lives had them disrupted in an unspeakable way.
I went to bed angry, which was a different response than when I went to bed scared after the 9/11 attacks on my own country.
I am pretty sure I am not the only person whose fear turned into anger.
On the day after, I can admit I am not as angry as I was yesterday, because anger lets the bad guys win. Anger can suck you into a whole new dimension, and I don’t want to go there.
Out of evil, good rises victorious. I am so pleased to hear Good Samaritan stories coming out of France. Medical personnel who didn’t wait to get called into work – they just showed up. Residents that opened their doors (#porteouverte) to strangers stranded by the attacks, World-wide, people are showing their support in prayer and photos. People are not letting anger win. As Fred Roger’s wise mother once comforted him by saying, “You will always find people who are helping.”
Earlier this week, we whiny people complained about #RedCups and wars on Christmas. We complained about the entitlement generation and people who are arrogant on the roads. We played into the divisive camps that have made us a nation divided the past few years. Trolls made mean remarks in comment sections. People posted “You are stupid if you believe ______” on their timelines, and we continued to look away from anything painful in our own homes, neighborhoods, state, country – the world.
It sure didn’t take much to align our minds and gain perspective. It is really a shame it takes an event like a terrorist attack to bring us together as a people.
So today, on the day after such tragedy, I once again make a vow to be a little kinder. Something I wasn’t doing much of earlier this week. I can open the door, with a smile, for a stranger at the store. I can slide a few bucks over to the person coming up short at the register, instead of grumbling about them. I can look for a need in my community and help fill it. I can call someone who I have been thinking about. I can pray longer and with more purpose. I can have an attitude of gratitude, instead of just having an attitude. I can remember that each one of us is going through something difficult in our lives, and just one act of kindness could make someone’s day.
“… ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 ESV
It’s true – there is no greater commandment – and most definitely, it is not an easy commandment to live. And loving my neighbor won’t prevent future terror attacks from others that don’t believe as I do. But it will make my corner world a better place to live, especially when we really need to lean on each other the day after.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa
© Lynne Cobb – 2015