I find there isn’t much to say. The more we desperately grasp at explanations, with the illusion that we know, and that what we think we know will make us safer, the farther we get from the only thing we do know – that this, all this, is being human.
Those who have been closer to the attacks in Britain in the past few months, those who have felt the terror, the grief, those who have been there to help and keep company to others, those who have been saving lives, know what I am trying to say, what I can only have glimpses of, and for which I find no words.
It is the same with all those in the face of brutality and blind, mindless hatred all over the world, and it has always been: this is being human. I am talking of the extremities of love, compassion and solidarity that flow in the face of horror.
But I am also talking of fear, the knee-jerk reactions triggered by fear. And then, there is what we call evil, because a word had to be found for what is simply too dark, too incomprehensible, too slippery for words. That is also a face (the dark face) of being human. A seed in all of us. We fool ourselves if we believe it belongs only in some other people’s hearts. Those who commit these atrocities fool themselves too: it is not a “cause”. It is not their cause. They have no cause. They are just human, sinking in the dark side. And thus it has been for as long as there is any memory of our presence in this world.
As a society, we do what we have to do, or at least what we can, in practical terms, to protect ourselves. We try to find out what that may be. Our vulnerability is a wake up call. As the individuals we are within society, there is only one path away from darkness. Love. Compassion. Solidarity. They may not make me necessarily safer. But there is really no other way to live our lives, not in the face of so much grief, everywhere.
This has been a strange week for me. A visit to A&E (kindness and only kindness). Some by now customary dealings with some rather pathetic iniquities. The news of the death of a dear pupil of mine. The usual struggles of every day life. The always unusual joys, since joy is never dull or repetitive. Then last night’s news. Today, a whole day of collective meditation and silence, at some point outside in the park, walking, and perhaps it’s never been clearer to me how vulnerable we all are, and how fleeting our lives. How precious, every single one. How impossibly red the red roses are.
Then talking with friends in a garden, sprinkled with yellow poppies.
Being human. So much grief, and yet so much beauty, such inexhaustible beauty in this wounded world of us, in these our fearful hearts.