Struggling to understand


What can be said that hasn't already been said? How to express the inexpressible? How many times must we feel the shock and pain of innocents killed? How often must we decry the barbarity, or weep for the dead?

I have no soothing words to offer, only the shared sadness of seeing innocent people mowed down by angry jihadists. I weep for France, a country I love and once lived in. It doesn't deserve this.

But I weep also for Beirut, where on Thursday 43 were killed and more than 200 wounded while going about their lives, struck down by two suicide bombers. The New York Times reports a Lebanese doctor saying, "When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. . . they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in THOSE parts of the world."

And he's right, of course. We see the Arab nations as inherently violent and pass over their suffering quickly, giving only a nod to the innocent lives lost for no reason other than fanaticism. And our casual nods surely feed that fanaticism. Arab lives matter. French lives matter. Black lives matter. All lives matter.

So what must we do? Should we resort to more bombings? An eye for an eye? Shall we take up arms to satisfy the blood lust of revenge? That is after all, what the jihadists want. They want us to become them. To foreswear our open, secular cultures—of which France is the epitome—and celebrate the madness of hatred.

But violence is no answer. For myself, I will try to understand the unfathomable, to love the hateful, and refuse to live in fear. I believe peace can be ours, but the first step is to choose it. That's not always easy.