I want so much to say something helpful. I want so much to say something comforting, soothing, anything but controversial. I want to help.
I’m not a first responder. I’m not a second or third responder either. I’m an ocean away, watching from the safety of my living room. I worry about the latest atrocity, the hate that inspired it, and the hate that will likely respond with hate, and the endless, pointless escalation of fear, mistrust and blind anger. I worry about the next atrocity, either an attempt to double down by the extremist evil on this most recent attack on children and young people, just going out for an exciting night of music and fun. Either that, or an opposite response attacking innocent others, deemed, by sheer association, to be part of the carnage. Scapegoats, because the actually attacker, at least one of them, is already dead.
Here is what I think I want to say: Evil, in all of its forms, is evil. Hate is hate, and hate is evil. Love, though unpopular in times like these, is always the right answer. You can hate the evil that people do. You can be angry with those specific individuals. You can disagree with what brought them to do this terrible thing. You can become disgusted as you learn more about what led up to the tragedy. But we have to stop short of attacking a whole people – whether religious, or ethnic or racial or any other ‘difference’ group, whose membership includes the perpetrators.
So how do you love? There are a lot of ways. You can focus on the victims and their families, whose pain and loss will never really end. Those folks need understanding, care and most of all, prayer. There are survivors whose injuries will never fully heal, who will need medical care and support.
There will be families ripped apart by guilt, and second thoughts. Imagine you fought with your spouse about whether your daughter was old enough to attend the Ariana Grande concert by herself. No matter which side you were on, you are in a tough place. What if the final answer had been no instead of yes? Would your little girl still be alive? Or safe from injury? Or blissfully unaware of the bombing?
In that scenario, both parents would need an overflow of grace to get through a trial like this. Given the emotions involved, that is a tall order for even the strongest families.
So, pray today for those families. Pray for the innocent people, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t waste time praying for retribution on the bombers and anyone who helped them. God will settle with them in his time. Our job is to love one another, support and care for and pray for everyone involved.
This includes the bomber and his or her family. People who are taken over by evil are often sick or hurt or being horribly manipulated by others. Their families are often blamed for not knowing and doing something to prevent tragedies. Imagine your family member seemed angry or withdrawn or who had sketchy friends. What are you supposed to do? There may be an answer, but I don’t know what it is. And though you can probably give an answer, would you actually do it, if push came to shove? If you’re really honest, you have to say that you don’t know.
Like I said above, love is not popular at times like this. Anger and fear and revenge are what gets heads nodding. To push back against this tide takes some degree of courage, and persistence. It is the only way to reverse this vicious, escalating and accelerating trend.
God bless you.