Last week, I went up to Virginia to visit some friends and they took me to see a Civil War battlefield, a place where an estimated 550 men died. As we looked out upon the wide open field, my friend and I discussed why people kill each other all in the name of whatever they think is worth taking the life of another human being. I gazed out into the field and speculated that perhaps we value our ideals over other humans because we are stunted by the filter of our own bias, so much that we are all incapable of imagining others complexly. He agreed and then added that war seemed foolish, to fight over just land or any other thing that people value over human life.
And then I returned home and turned on the news. I had been gone all day and hadn't seen the news earlier about the terrorist attack in Bangladesh, and now more recently, Baghdad.
I don't know how I feel anymore. Or even how to feel. I have been really numb feeling ever since the Paris attacks last November. After that, each attack just seems like another stats for the history books. And I know that is awful to admit, but I have forgotten how to mourn. 'Cause really, how does one mourn for so many? I think maybe the Paris attacks hit me so hard because I was watching the story as it was unfolding. It was people, not just stats. Before I had seen the news, I was watching an episode of the show "heroes Reborn," in which a very similar situation was unfolding. And after the episode was over, I was at that point barely watching. Then my sister switched over to live television where the Paris attacks were unfolding and it looked so much like that TV episode, that I was confused. Right when I was about to tell my sister that she could stop the episode, and that it had finished, I realized that it wasn't a show. People were right at that very moment being massacred.
Then the death toll kept on rising, stories were being told, gruesome pictures shared and I guess I just broke. And ever since that day I have been trying to understand how people could do that to other people and maybe if I knew, I could move on and adequately mourn, but I can't. The dead will always outnumber the living and that is something I guess I must learn to live with until I become just another statistic.
Elie Wiesel once said,
"It is we who decide whether words are to be carriers of hate or vehicles of compassion, whether they become spears or peace offerings, whether they will move us to despair or to hope. I belong to a generation that has learned that whatever the question, despair is not the answer. What is the answer? Maybe you are the answer."
And this brings me to the realization that perhaps we cannot ever properly mourn for so many. Maybe an adequate amount of despair will never make up for the lives continually lost. And I have hope because I have words and I have to believe that they are stronger than guns, stronger than hate and stronger than fear.
And maybe the best thing we all can do is to remember that our words hold power, and that the way to stop hatred and fear lies in my observations about how we must learn to see others a complex human beings.
All I have ever had are my words and maybe I just need to start believing that my words will always be more than enough.