Compassion and Hatred

Compassion and Hatred

Easter is over.  We have waved our palm branches, watched as Jesus over-turned the money tables in the temple, sat on the hillside as Jesus lamented the future of Jerusalem, prayed with Jesus in the garden, sat at the table as Jesus broke bread and passed the cup, struggled through the nightmare of Friday as Jesus was tried, mocked, beaten and crucified, waited through the dark hours of Saturday and awoke to the empty tomb on Sunday.  We even managed to hunt a few colored eggs and munch on some chocolate bunnies along the way.  It’s break time; fifty days until Pentecost, plenty of time to catch our breath, grab a beach holiday, take in the mountains or trek off to Disneyland.

But before we can actually get through the Holy Week roller-coaster of emotions, our world is shattered once more by violence.  Not just violence across the pond, as the British are fond of referring to the Atlantic Ocean, or in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan, but right here, just down the road.  A husband, son, father, former Air Force officer and church volunteer snaps (for a still unknown reason) and commits triple murder, arson and suicide in that order.  We cannot fathom how this tragedy can happen; it is beyond our ability to comprehend.  We grieve for the parents/grandparents, for the extended family and for the community of faith which must deal with it in the coming days and months.

And before we can possibly be ready, another blow to the sanctity of Holy Week lands, hard enough to knock the wind from our lungs.  We gasp at the sight of dozens and dozens of people in Brussels, capital city of the tiny country of Belgium, as they cower under chairs, lie in pools of blood, stare blankly into the sky and are wheeled to awaiting transports, ready to rush them to hospitals for emergency care and treatment.  Some are not so lucky.  This will be their final moments of life.  We cannot fathom how this tragedy can happen; it is beyond our ability to comprehend.  Once again, our hearts are full of grief for parents and grandparents and children and siblings and a city and a nation and all of the communities in the world which feel even greater fear than yesterday.

Then, tomorrow, when it arrives, let our hearts not be full of hate.  That is what terror seeks, demands even, and we cannot give it that validity.  “If it is our way of life they seek to destroy, let us respond instead by standing stronger and taller still,…unshaken by their cowardice and hatred.  Let us remember that good people, of all faiths and nations, suffer from extremist terror and religious violence.  We must be united in both our compassion and our resolve.  There will be those who seek to exploit this bloodshed to their own aims and ambitions, doubling down on their rhetoric and politics of fear and division.  Our mettle as freedom-loving people shall be sorely tested by these attacks.  Whatever we do next, let it be without haste, without hatred.  That is a difficult thing to ask, a very tough and narrow path to tread, but it is the only way through.” Quote from a George Takei internet post.