Cathy-Hird-FranceBy Cathy Hird
Disbelief. That was the first reaction. Of course the soccer players kept playing when they heard the explosions because no one thought of a bomb.

Fear. Once the people in the stadium realized the two explosions were bombs, fear overwhelmed. Where should they go? Should they go out onto the field? Out of the stadium? With every step the spectators took they must have wondered if they were escaping or walking toward danger.

Shock. At the restaurant, the attack was sudden and swift. In a flash, it was over and people's lives had fractured. Sirens screamed in the night, and the city knew it had been attacked. Again.

Terror. Inside the club with gunmen roaming, I cannot imagine the kind of fear the concert goers felt.

Horror. The world turned on the television. People around the globe felt horror at another co-ordinated attack on civilians.

Anger burned. Fear gripped cities like New York as people wondered if their city would be targeted as well. Islamic State claimed responsibility, and the world had a specific target for the fury.

Almost a week has gone by. I am sure that security agencies are still trying to figure out how they missed this. Ordinary people and government leaders are trying to explain what provoked this attack on a city at play. Anger makes even casual conversations heated. Blame is ladled out.

The group called Islamic State claimed responsibility so the violence in Syria is a somewhat legitimate target for blame. After that, the story gets tangled. The massive flow of refugees into Europe becomes part of the story.

Hatred? Will that be our reaction? Because ISIS acknowledged that their organization planned the attacks, the whole Moslem community is blamed. A woman in a hijab picking up children at school was beaten. A mosque in our province was damaged by a suspicious fire.

Many Moslems are speaking out against the violence, stating strongly that their religion does not defend these kinds of attacks. Is the world listening to those within Islam who advocate for peace?

I hope so, but our ears are not attuned to the whole story, and we have blinders limiting what our eyes see. The day before the Paris attacks, two bombs went off in suburban Beirut and again IS claimed the violence. But CNN and BBC did not cover that attack the way they showed the one in Paris.

Can our world find a way to end this escalating violence?

One of the strategies is to defeat ISIS. These murders have been called an act of war. To me that feels dangerous. Attacking to end attacks is not logical, and so far the intervention in Syria has made matters worse not better.

What we need is peace. What we long for is peace. What migrants seek is security and peace. All around the Mediterranean people long for wholeness and peace. In the cities of the west, we long for freedom from attacks that target civilians and for peace. Where there is such a longing for peace surely we can move in that direction.

Years ago when violence wracked the countries of Central America and the north called for peace, we were reminded that there could be no peace without justice. Peace is not just the cessation of attacks. Peace encompasses wholeness, shelter, freedom, security--and by security I mean a certainty that our house will stand; our job will endure; we can feed our families.

I was reminded on Sunday that the path to peace begins with compassion. We need to understand the underlying causes and not just with our minds but with our hearts. We need to feel the humanity of those who suffer. We need to call on those who use violence to live their own humanity and to see the humanity of those whom they attack. The path to peace requires all to step away from anger and blame and terror. Compassion enables us to see those who have been hidden, like the people of Beirut. Compassion opens us to invest in Africa, in Syria so that there is a sheltering home for those who would rather not migrate north.

Compassion for the injured and the grieving was one of the reactions in those who watched the reports after the attacks. Holding on to compassion for all who suffer will help each of us to walk toward peace.
Cathy Hird is a farmer, minister and writer living near Walters Falls.




CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators