23 May To my daughter, on a day we don’t understand.
This isn’t really a new blog post.
It started as a letter to those who have subscribed to this blog, who I email most weeks.
But after writing it and sending it to them I thought I would share it here too.
It has been such a strange day.
A day of conflicting emotions.
A day where our nation has poured out sorrow and grief and anger… and disbelief.
Why? And why there – at a concert where the audience is made up of children and young people?
It doesn’t add up and it feels so unfair.
My ten year old has just (this minute) come to me and said she is scared to go to bed and she wishes she didn’t know what had happened last night.
She says this when she has watched a film (or even a trailer for a film) she finds scary. She wants the images and the words and the knowledge out of her mind.
To be able to scrub it away.
And I can’t do that for her.
I never can, but this time I can’t even reassure her that it was all make believe, and that she is safe, always. Because she and I know it could have been her and her sister, or a gaggle of their friends (probably accompanied by a long-suffering parent) at that concert last night. We hear that singer on the radio all the time, we know the lyrics to her songs, we watch her on the tv, we make up silly dances to her music in the kitchen.
There is no sense in this attack and when I try and (badly) explain to. her the political or financial background to these protests, when I try and explain about people who feel so strongly they are willing to die and hurt others to make their voice heard, about justice and injustices that go back decades and centuries, it all sounds hollow, meaningless.
Who could have enough of a reason to do this?
She and I both know there is not reason enough in the world for this.
And so the list goes on…
Or the bombing of Syria, or Gaza, or Iraq.
How do we continue to live in a world capable of this.
And I have few words of comfort.
Apart from this.
I believe that as people perpetrate these acts of senseless terror, alongside them people of justice rise up. As we see the horror unfolding, acts of kindness multiply. As much destruction as there is, so we will sow peace and love and mercy.
It sounds like just words, but I know we are inclined to heal, and at the point of greatest breaking open, that is when the hope is poured out. Because it has to be. Because we need it. We cannot let despair win.
I once heard that Dorothy Day spoke about the time of the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906, when she was 9 years old. Many died and many more were injured. Her family were badly affected and lost their home. And yet she saw in this very moment people opening their doors to each other, eating together, sharing what they had. She saw people making a place for the homeless and the grieving. She saw people who were foreigners becoming family. Later in her life she reflected on this time and reflecting on it said, “I often think, ‘why can’t it be like that all the time?'”.
There is no justification for what happened last night and I would not want to make a glib response to it. I have found myself at a loss for words myself, and have not been able to help my girls understand (how could they?).
But I also know that I will not live a life bowed by fear. I will (hopefully) lead them by example and show them how to face this world with hope and courage and love.
Because we need a force greater than hate, greater than anger today.
And the only thing I know more powerful than that is love.
So, be loved wonderful people. And love one another.