Melancholy and contemplative. That’s the order of the day.
There was another terrorism attack today, this time in Belgium. It was ostensibly a response to the successful capture of a ringleader of the November 2015 Paris attacks. Scores of innocent people, just going about their daily lives, were injured or killed by evil. The cascading impact on friends and family increases the number hurt.
I choose not to think of them as victims. I prefer to think of them as heroes, those that gave in the name of freedom, justice, the rule of law, and good. Evil thrives on fear, on terror, on making us change our lives for the worse. I believe we are all better than that. We are better than fear. We are society, committed to the notion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t be aware, vigilant, and at times cautious. That’s not the same thing as giving into fear or anger. It’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge. We know there is evil in this world and have been reminded all too viscerally and painfully once again today. But that doesn’t mean we have to stoop to their level or lose out on what makes us stronger and better.
We are privileged, fortunate, lucky, and good enough to be better than that. We have opportunities because we are alive. We make choices every day — do we give in to fear, anger, hate, and terror or do we rise to the challenge of evil and stand up for what is right, just, and fair?
This may be naive of me but I think one of the best things we can do in the face of evil is to carry on, to go about our lives, and so not to give in to terror and hate. Make no mistake, the villains who commit atrocities and attack people, who use violence and preach death as a rhetorical argument for change are bad and I hate what they stand for, I hate what what they do. But I will not change my life and live in fear. If I see something, I’ll say something. I won’t put myself in areas I feel are dangerous or unsafe. I will, in short, exercise common sense. But I won’t stop living my life. I won’t give in to being afraid or change my plans because some crazed rogue individuals seek to destroy society, community, the world. If my time comes, it will come. But I choose to live. To pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And to do so responsibly with the notion of trying not to hurt anybody. If happiness means hurting other people, what’s the point?
And so, it’s a small thing, but today I went for a run, like I always try to do. I thought about life. Thought about how, as I said, I’m privileged, lucky, and fortunate to be alive, to be (usually) pretty happy, to be surrounded by supportive and brilliant family and friends. And I thought about how privileged, lucky, and fortunate I am to be able to run.
I choose to be vigilant as part of the price for freedom. I choose not to take for granted the rights and privileges of the free individuals in a society of good.
And so, I choose not to let evil win. Ever. We are better than that.
I’m lucky. And I know it.
To those heroes who fell today, to their family and friends that will carry the pain with them from now on, please know you are not alone. We are not alone. We are strong individuals and even stronger together.
Be good. Be happy. Do right. Try not to hurt anybody.