Once again we are reminded in a horrific way of our inhumanity, and it seems to becoming more and more commonplace. Our prayers and love are sent to the victims and families of those lost in the recent attacks in Paris as well as those lives lost daily in terror attacks. Once again we are reminded of the evil that exists within our world and left with a tightness in our chests and tears on our face as we try to understand, as we try to find meaning in this horrible, criminal act. How can we help? How can we keep from succumbing to the fear these criminals seek to induce and live into the wonder and beauty that our world offers us each and every day? How can we as members of the human family stand in solidarity and say in a loud clear voice, “Enough!” How can we transcend competing ideologies, nationalistic fervor, and our overwhelming fear of the “different” to link our hands and our hearts, our words and our deeds, to promote the common good of all peoples, recognizing that we are all members of the same human family?
First of all, we must recognize that this is a criminal act, nothing less and certainly nothing more. Cowardly men without honor hiding behind masks committing acts of violence designed to induce terror and gain political power. Their ideology is so repugnant, so confused, that it cannot stand in the light of reason, secularly or theologically, and must be hidden behind masks and secret bases. Their ideals cannot stand in the courts of reason and are restricted hiding in the margins of the world where they promote their criminal enterprise. It would be a mistake on our part to conflate, as some have already, Islam and the acts of these criminals. Though they may cloak themselves in that faith tradition, by their acts of violence they blaspheme the very name of the God that they purport to serve. It would be adding tragedy upon tragedy if we followed suit and marginalized our Muslim brothers and sisters because of the acts of a few terrible criminals. These men are not holy men acting within the bounds of their faith, but criminals acting to promote their own self interest.
As criminals, they need to be brought out of the shadows and caused to stand in the light of justice. Justice tempered with mercy, justice born in the common humanity we all share. It cannot be executed in secret, it cannot delivered in secret or not so secret drone strikes, it cannot be delivered in endless wars which do nothing but perpetuate the cycle of violence we seem to be mired in. We as a common human family must bring these purveyors of terror and violence to the bar and compel them to answer for their inhumanity in the light of day. It will require us to set aside the fear that would keep us from reaching out to one another in community. It will require us to understand that we are a global family, setting aside national interests and any confused notions of patriotism that would keep us from embracing our brothers and sisters as family members equally deserving of life, liberty, and peace. It will require of us courage. Courage to stand up in the face of evil people and say, “I will not be afraid!” and “I will seek the common welfare of all people as I do my own!”
Today, we mourn. Today we feel the heartache born out of senseless tragedy. Today, we pray and offer our love and support to those whose lives have been taken and to the families whose lives have been so horribly damaged by these acts of terror. Their pain and suffering are our pain and suffering. Their loss is our loss. Their tragedy is our tragedy. We are family and we have lost our family members.