|Villa Rothchild gardens, photo by Mary M Payne|
I am touched by all of the heartfelt messages ...little texts and notes that have come from the States and as far as Mumbai from friends and family.... and from Facebook acquaintances that I have never even met or who have "found" me. These have all been in response to the tragedy last night in Nice.
Last evening I thought that I would go down to the fireworks display but decided I would be better served by going to bed early and getting up at five to meditate and walk along the sea. It is a new practice of mine and it isn't cemented into my belief system yet ( I still believe that I am not a morning person) so I was determined to do it, even though going to bed early still seems like a wussy thing to do.
So I went to bed early and during that time (around 10h30 here) a truck deliberately plowed into the crowds by the famous Negresco Hotel, killing 84 revelers and injuring 200.
My brother Jim called at 1:30 am from Seattle to let us know what had happened. It had become world wide news.
But even though we weren't affected personally, all of your little kindnesses, letters and phone calls to us and to each other have meant so much. They are what is needed for everyone to heal the deep wounds of alienation and fear that have turned into rage.
You can see this alienation in the political scene in Britain ( Brexit) and the USA and in the proliferation of gun related incidents in the USA. This fear and alienation is a world-wide problem now, not just that of France. You can see it in the fear of immigration and fear of displacement across the globe, the fear and loathing of "the others".
Why does it take a tragedy to reach out to each other in solidarity? It is perhaps because we need an emotional response to really make a change.
What if we made reaching out a daily practice?
In fact, I think that that is all we can do. We certainly can't cover every person with a policeman and a gun. We can't even realistically secure a crowd. Any determined terrorist
But we can soften the climate to make our lives more inclusive...reaching across borders that we unwittingly have put in place.
I am blessed that all my people are safe and I want to keep that feeling every day. I think it is up to me how I feel and how I think. If I can believe that I am changing the climate to prevent alienation, I know I will feel even better.
And that does not mean re-living the story over and over, repeating the horrors and looking at the pictures. If you can't change it, go ahead and rail at the world for five minutes....not more. Repeating the story only keeps the negativity and terrorism alive. It does nothing to heal it.
What I need to move on is "to be on my toes", not to guard against horrors, but to see how I can make a difference in the general feelings around me.
What we all can do takes place on the bus, in the street, passing a stranger in the parking lot , at the market. What we can do is to be alert, awake to the strangers around us. We can take the time to talk, nod, smile or even to just silently lift the energy without a word or gesture...
Even that wordless thought is an action... a simple acknowledgement that we are on this planet together. That is something we can do.