I’ve watched the world’s reaction to last week’s attacks unfold with a sense of bafflement.
Are we really debating whether we should pray or light a candle or hold a space or raise a glass for the attacked? Anyone who does any of those adds love to the world. How can that be wrong?
Are we really shaming people for embracing images that might seem to prioritize one attack over another? Whatever flag or image reminds us to pray, light a candle, hold a space, or raise a glass—in love—adds to the love in the world. How can that be wrong?
Are we really debating whether we will change our behavior, our values, our essence, because a small percentage of the world turns to violence to force us to do so? Because—be very clear about this—if we turn away from love because we fear violence, the terrorists will succeed.
Love, the difficult, demanding, transforming verb that it is, is a choice. To love, we must choose to love. If fear waits downhill from us, where one slip, one tumble, one misstep can send us sliding into it, love waits above us. We must climb, strive, reach, and struggle up toward love much of the time.
In the wake of terror, induced by terrorist attacks, it’s easy to slip into fear. It’s easy to turn on those who react differently to the attacks, to those who think differently than we do, to those who are more vulnerable than we are. It’s easy to feel helpless in our fear and turn that fear into anger.
Fight against that fear. Raise your eyes above you and climb toward love. Speak truth in love. Look around you and join hands with the army of love in our world.
- Love with the warriors for love that are our first responders, our military, our caregivers, our teachers.
- Love with everyone who cares for the young, the old, the ill, everyone who goes on despite being ill—love them, love with them.
- Love with people who care for animals and people who care for growing things.
- Love our world with everyone who reduces, reuses, and recycles.
- Love with those who love, with families everywhere—parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and all those who step in when none of those can.
- Love with the poets, dreamers, and visionaries who show us how we can love and the social activists who lead us up the mountain of change toward that love.
- Love with those who clean, repair, and maintain our world; love with those who invent ways to make it a better world.
- Love with those who create beauty.
- Love with those who believe in duty and responsibility and integrity.
- Love with those who work. Love with those who give. Love with those love.
- Love with those warriors of love who cannot love right now, those wounded in the battle, those lost from their army of love.
- Love with this father who loves his son so much that he will raise him in love when hatred would be so easy.
I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote after 9/11.
I’ve never done anything with it because it’s rough. It’s irregular. No one would ever consider it tight or well-constructed. Too simple in places, too insubstantial in others, it remains unedited. I don’t know how to edit it.
But I offer it to you as sign that love mattered most of all then and love still matters most of all. Love.
Against a score martyred to hate
We send an army of thousands
Martyrs for love
Those who woke and worked that morning
Loving their families
Loving the skills they shared
Loving the lives they touched
Loving, as their lives were stolen
Those in doubt, who chose
Loving those left behind
Loving each other
Loving people they never knew
Loving, as they surely died for others
Those who knew and faced the danger
Loving their comrades
Loving their strength
Loving victim and survivor
Loving, as they offered their lives
Those with the longest, hardest call
Loving their children
Loving their country
Loving children in countries not their own
Loving, risked their lives for freedom
So many to prove
That though nineteen men died
As disciples of hate
More love exists
Than this world dreamed could be
Love, the true foundation of the land of the free