On Thursday, November 12, Beirut was attacked by ISIS and innocent lives were taken. The next day, on Friday, November 13, Paris was attacked and more innocent lives were senselessly taken.
You may have seen this quote by Warsan on your Facebook or Instagram feed, and it speaks volumes to the hate, hurt and terror in our world today. Our entire world is hurting.
The other day I was thinking, “What can I do to add love? What can I do to add light?” And I thought about how I personally react to terror.
1. I educate myself.
I’m fortunate to have friends and family from different ethnicities and religions, who are passionate about helping people around the world. So when the local news didn’t talk about the attacks in Beirut, my friends did. I read about the attacks in Beirut on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. Then I Googled to learn more—about the attacks in both Beirut and Paris.
Here in America, we’re fortunate to have access to so many different news sources thanks to the internet. We don’t have to rely on our TV screens.
We’re responsible for our own knowledge and understanding.
Some wake up and go to bed with the news. Personally, I’d rather start my day on a positive note—by working out, reviewing my goals, and setting my intention for the day—and I like to end my night on a positive note as well. But ignorance is definitely not bliss. So I don’t avoid the news. I make a point to actively inform and educate myself by tuning into the news (typically ABC & CNN), reading articles on the internet and letters from those actually “living it”, reading tweets (I love using Twitter as a news source), and talking with friends and family. I also seek out poetry. Have you read Warsan Shire’s poem “Home”? It’s an extremely powerful, moving poem that speaks to the experience of being a refugee. You can read her full poem here—it’s AMAZING. I hope you read it.
Here‘s some more beautiful poetry speaking out for refugees, on The Guardian’s website.
2. I practice kindness.
Did a stranger ever make your day? Hopefully your answer is “YES!”
My answer is definitely, “yes!” I make a point to practice kindness because really, why not practice kindness? The world can be an ugly place, but it can also be beautiful. And every day we have the power to make it more beautiful just by being kind to one another. So I practice kindness, because like I said before, why not?
But, consider this: Practicing kindness is free—it doesn’t cost you anything—and when you lift someone’s spirit or “restore their faith in humanity” (a bit cheesy, but stick with me) you lift your own spirit as well. Just think about it… Didn’t you feel REALLY good about yourself the last time you did something thoughtful for a family member, a friend or a complete stranger? Some say there’s no such thing as a completely selfless act, because when we do good we feel good. I say… So what? I’m thankful it feels good to do good. Hopefully more of us give into that aspect of our biology, and more often, because our world needs more good.
3. I celebrate my freedom.
Fear is a dangerous emotion. A healthy amount may be necessary, sure, but when we let fear control our lives it prevents us from EXPERIENCING life. When I was younger, I let fear talk me out of many things, and it stills creeps in at times, but I make a conscious decision to keep my fear in check.
Saturday, I had plans to see Hardwell live. I couldn’t help but draw a correlation between my Saturday night plans and the horrific attacks on Paris, at the Bataclan concert hall. It would’ve been easy to give into fear and stay home—avoid concerts, avoid crowds—but instead I celebrated my freedom and went to the concert (& he was incredible). On Sunday, I had tickets to the Vikings/Raiders game. Again, it would’ve been easy to stay home out of fear, but I choose to celebrate my freedom and enjoyed the game and our amazing seats.
Freedom is like a language in that if we don’t use it, we lose it.
4. I choose love.
Have you read Antoine Leiris’ letter to ISIS? Antoine’s wife of 12 years, Helen Muyal-Leiris, with whom he has a 17-month old son, was killed in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Friday. On Monday, Antoine shared a letter titled, “Vous n’aurez pas ma haine”, (“You Will Not Have My Hatred”), on Facebook. What’s beautiful about Antoine’s letter is the strength with which he chooses love in a moment when many would understand him choosing hate. You can read Antoine’s full letter translated in English here, on ABC News’ website. It’s so sad, so beautiful and so well written. I started bawling while reading it.
Another powerful letter I came across is Sarah Jameel’s letter, “A Love Letter to Beirut, Paris and Beyond From Sri Lanka”, which you can read here, on the Huffington Post website.
People cope with sadness, hate, hurt, and terror in many different ways. For me, these four actions help me feel empowered, rather than helpless, and help me add love and light, rather than spread hate and fear.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Beirut and Paris, and the innocent refugees who are seeking a safe home. I hope the love of the world surrounds you and strengthens you.