I was going to post my typical somewhat serious, somewhat sarcastic piece today. But I'm in a yucky funk over Paris. I just don't get it. Does anyone really think they can achieve anything though violence? Certainly not sympathy. Excuse me if I'm wrong here, but aren't hearts and minds influenced the most through sympathy?
I don't really know what's going on in Syria. Most days I don't read the world news. I don't know what it feels like to lose everything to war, especially one waged by my own government. I don't know what abject desperation coupled with zealous religion feels like. Obviously, for some, it feels bad enough to randomly attack other humans. I feel sad for the reverberations of grief that fan out over the world from the actions of a few.
You know where we succeed? Through kindness. Even in a war, and that's what terrorism is, we make progress through kindness. You know what's more effective than water boarding? Respect for and rapport with a detainee, known as the Humane Interrogation Technique. You know how attitudes changed, at least for awhile, in Afghanistan? Through community building between village leaders and the occupying military.
So what to do with all these feelings of rage and hopelessness and grief? Not bomb the shit out of Syria. Not pray that the world will heal. The Pope said recently "You pray for the hungry and then you feed them. That's how prayer works."
How about we try to be kind, not just to our friends and family, but to everyone. The cashier? He's a human, and humans respond to kindness. And maybe if that cashier were secretly studying jihadism on YouTube after work, he'd reconsider. Because he felt connected to his humanity - through your simple act of kindness. Who knows if it will work. But I think we do know what doesn't.