Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Words After Paris

Words in Response to Paris

My mantra these last few days has been that the best way to defeat ISIS is to not play the game by their rules.  They want you to be afraid and angry. When we are afraid we are paralyzed and we make bad decisions.  That is what happened to our governor when he let fear overcome his good judgment and he said he would not allow Syrian refugees into Massachusetts.

The president of France in similar fashion gave in to his anger when he turned loose the dogs of war the morning after the attacks. I am not a pacifist but I also know that the use of force ought not to be a reaction but rather a calculated action taken with thought and reflection. The use of force is also best exercised in cooperation with others and with great attention to context.

The citizens of Paris offered a wise response by going back out on the streets over the week-end.  They went to enjoy their coffee and to let their enemies know that they were not afraid. The city of lights turned on its lights. The response to terror is to be strong. Paris is a city that has known horror over the last century but the people of Paris are resilient. They are not afraid. They are strong; we are strong as well.

My friend Courtney Crummett  who works in our libraries told me a story about that famous theologian, philosopher and musician, Bob Marley that is worth taking with you this evening. There was an attempt on his life in Jamaica, but he survived though seriously wounded. He got out of bed to go to a rally calling for an end of violence.  His friends were worried about how weak he was and they told him not to go.  “You have paid your dues. This is not your fight.” But Marley said: “The people who want to make the world a worse place do not take days off. Why should I?.” He went to the rally.

Bob Marley was strong; Paris is strong. We are strong. We are not going to give in to our fear or to our anger. We are going to be strong, thoughtful and deliberate.  This a better way to live and we will not fail to meet the challenges before us.

Robert M. Randolph
Chaplain to the Institute