Here we are again in the aftermath of another mass shooting in a house of worship. By the time this issue goes to print, the likelihood is that there will be another. It seems unthinkable that this keeps happening, but the reality is that we now have to worry about being at risk of violence when we are at our most vulnerable, gathered together to practice our faith. It is a trend that isn’t unique to the U.S., and it doesn’t discriminate between religions. In that way, we are all united.
I’ve thought a lot about what it is that compels individuals and groups to want to wage war on innocent people, who want only to worship their God in reverence and peace. We know that one answer is fear in the perpetrators that anyone different in the way they look or what they believe is a threat to them. This fear is fueled by explosive rhetoric that is designed to divide us. It is also the fear of the power of faith. Only faith and love are stronger than hate and give us the capacity to overcome death. They are stronger than the most lethal weapons created by man and stronger than the loudest and cruelest proponents of violence around the world.
This struggle between good and evil (that, by the way, is nothing new), reminds me of a fable I read as a child:
One day the sun and the wind decided to have a contest to see who could more quickly make a man who was walking along a road take off his coat. The wind, confident in his strength and ferocity went first. He blew so hard the man could barely walk against its force, but no matter how the wind tried the man wouldn’t take off his coat, he only pulled it closer around himself. Then it was the sun’s turn. He gently beamed his warmth down on the man, slowly increasing the intensity of his heat, until the man was so warm he quickly removed his coat and tossed it over his shoulder.
I try to remind myself that the arc of history is long and that in the end good triumphs over evil not only because it is stronger, but because it is everlasting.
Last month, I watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames. There seemed to be no hope that any of it could be saved. But, with the light of the next day, still shrouded in lingering smoke, it stood. It stood as a symbol that good does prevail and that no amount of violence and hatred can ultimately defeat us if we of faith, all faiths, stand together against it.