It seems ironic that only 48 hours after I wrote my thoughts about optimism, we are faced with the shocking reality of the dangerous world in which we live. At this moment in Manchester, England, we know there are 22 people dead and dozens more with serious, even critical injuries because of a powerful bomb blast perpetrated, it is reported, by a single suicide bomber. Many of those victims of violence are teenagers. This is an unspeakable horror and ought to shake us to our core.
So where does the hope come from in this situation? Is there a balance to be had in this moment of evil? Even in the few stories I have read this morning, I would say a grateful and resounding YES! The example I choose that illustrates the goodness and solidarity that stands against evil is the 48-year old woman who gathered and led out of the arena a group of teenagers, took them to a hotel, stayed with them and gave them her cell phone number so that all their parents could call her to assure that their children were safe. In addition, hotels were opening their doors to anyone in need, taxi drivers were offering free rides and pictures from the scene showed any number of concert attendees helping the wounded. As all this was happening, no group claimed responsibility for the attack. To this moment it appears to be the work of one person.
This may be impossible for many of us but I (who have never birthed a child, let alone have one involved in this atrocity) must ask us to pray not only for the victims but for the soul of the perpetrator of the event. It is a stretch of our spiritual willingness, to be sure, but if I continue to speak of unitive consciousness and hope for “one world” I must not veer from the principle of universal love in any situation. I take the example of the woman I spoke of above who acted spontaneously out of the goodness that was already in her – as in all the rest of those generous people – to respond in contrast to the act of one person. How will we continue to build and not tear down the foundations of a world where this type of event cannot happen because of the light of love that exists in every citizen? It is only our work in this direction that can move us forward.
Are we strong enough? I can only pray that our corporate answer is “YES.”