I think we’re all still reeling from the horrific events that took place in Paris last night. I know that I am. Images and sounds that we can’t get out of our heads. Innocent people enjoying their Friday evening, only to discover the worst of humanity.
Much like the stages of grief, I believe there is a natural process that we go through as we watch traumatic events like this unfold (which are becoming far too frequent):
1. The first stage is disbelief – what did that last tweet just say? Bombings in the heart of Paris? This can’t possibly be true! We scour the internet for any morsel of information that we can glean, in an attempt to disprove our worst fears.
2. When it’s been confirmed that this is indeed happening, there is an immediate coming together in solidarity. Social media feeds were filled with messages of love and support for the people of Paris, even as events were still unfolding. And with our advanced level of connectivity, we are easily able to follow events in real time, which is both a blessing a curse. It provides us with the most up-to-the-minute information but can also lead to a lot of misinformation and increased anxiety on the part of people who can’t seem to disconnect themselves from the story.
3. We get really angry – there are a lot of emotions involved in seeing your fellow world citizens being gunned down in public and fleeing for their lives. The most intense of these can be anger. And that anger wants to be directed somewhere, which leads into the next stage…
4. We look for someone to blame – this is completely natural. In order to make sense of something that really makes no sense at all, we need to find someone or something to blame. Somewhere to place our anger and disgust, our sorrow and grief. The problem is when we start to place blame where it doesn’t belong. When we condemn a group of people based on the acts of a very few. Don’t get me wrong, the people who commit these acts are heinous people and worthy of appropriate punishment but let us place the blame where it properly belongs. We don’t want to look back on this time in history and feel shame at how we conducted ourselves. Let’s be on the right side of this history that’s unfolding.
5. We get depressed and feel the world is going to crap – this also is natural. Some very bad things are indeed happening in the world, and not just in Paris. It can be overwhelming when we try to take it all in. But we must resist the urge to give up on the world. We must look for those helpers that Mister Rogers told us to look for, because in them, we will find our salvation. When you realize how many more people were willing to open their doors to strangers, rush headlong into danger and work around the clock to assist the injured than the few who perpetrated this evil, you realize that darkness can never win. Because evil is desperately outnumbered. And this is how we must fight terrorism, with undying light and hope. And what better place to lead the charge than the City of Light?