So. This happened: U.S. Envoy to Libya Is Killed in Attack.
If for whatever reason you can’t access that article, the short form is that some folks in the US made an impressively inflammatory video about Islam, called “Innocence of Muslims”. I went and watched it, and it took me approximately 20 seconds to see how people found this offensive. (Pro tip: blackface is not ok, and using bedsheets, Santa beards, and self-tanner to portray Arabic people pretty much qualifies as the modern equivalent of blackface in my book. And that’s just the costuming. It gets worse from there). People were completely understandably offended and angry, and then some of the angry folks went and killed the American ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members. For the record, that’s where they stopped having my sympathy: I completely get the angry part, and as it happens, I agree with you that that video was totally angry-making; but the shooting/burning/destructive violence bit is where you lose me.
And the whole thing, from the video to the shooting to the frustratingly politicized responses, had me >this< close to using today’s Tract as a way to vent my angry, angry spleen. I was going to ride in here all full of righteous indignation and throw a full-blown Buffalo Tantrum about how people are not allowed to kill people, no matter how angry they make you.
So I went looking through my “‘Tract Ideas” Pinterest board for something that would appropriately express my righteous indignation, and instead I found this:
…And it reminded me of this:
…And I just kinda ran out of steam. I have said again and again that this is a safe space for all people. I have said again and again that we don’t have to agree with each other to decide that we can work from a foundation of mutual respect. No, I still don’t think it’s ok to make inflammatory videos, and no, I still don’t think it’s ok to kill people; but I do think that instead of getting caught up in the rage, we can choose instead to focus our energies elsewhere.
In other words, I can’t undo anything that was done–I can’t unmake that video, and I can’t un-kill those people, and I can’t un-offend anyone…but I can do my part to create a safe space where people will hopefully feel that they can express their anger in a non-lethal way. I can promote seeking opportunities to build constructive relationships. I can recommend choosing peace and love over anger and violence.
I can put my little stone on the other side of the balance. And if enough of us do that, we might tip it.
So today I want to ask you to choose love. I want you to give yourself a minute to honor your emotions–if you are feeling angry, or scared, or frustrated, that’s ok. You have the right to feel whatever you feel. But then I want you to choose your verbs–the things you’re actually going to do today–from a place of love. Think of ways to help raise up your fellow man. Think of ways to make someone’s life a little better (remember: the small things count too. I would love you a million times over if you brought me a cup of coffee right now so I didn’t have to go pour it myself). Think of ways to add your stone to the side of the scale that says “love and peace and all that crunchy granola stuff”.
And then go do them.
There are lots of opportunities out there, if you give yourself permission to look for them. Send a love note. Write a blog post about love. Slap one of those nifty “Coexist” bumper stickers on your car. Hug your dog or cat (I don’t recommend hugging your fish). Hug your kids, your spouse, your partner, your Mom. Take someone a cup of coffee.
Every act counts. Every act is another stone on the Happy Hippies side of the scale. And I cannot begin to tell you how much I want that scale to tip. I have every confidence that we can make that scale tip. Every. Confidence. So let’s tip it.