By Adam Hocking
Whenever an atrocity like the terrorist attack in Paris happens, I wish that, as a writer, I could come up with some combination of words to mend hearts or change the broken thought process that leads people to commit such evil, but those words do not seem to exist, or at least I cannot come up with them.
Instead, I try to find something in all of the chaos to hold onto. I look for some reference point to cling to while I catch my breath and attempt to make sense of what just occurred.
The difficulty I have in finding this reference point is, I think, one of the central goals of terrorism. Terrorism digs at the nerves of society until it gets so uncomfortable that everyone starts to panic. It threatens that unspoken but widely held pact nearly all of us observe: As human beings we will not physically harm each other.
Terrorism seeks to divide us by making us fear our differences. It irritates that primal instinct we all have to react violently when something bad happens and to create borders and divisions among ourselves.
Instead, we should be celebrating the difference between ourselves and terrorists. Terrorists want to destroy the world, and the rest of us want to make it better. We may not always agree how to make it better, but we share a common belief that things can, do, and will get better.
Terrorists want us to believe that we live in a world on fire, and they are pretty good at making that awful case, but all anyone has to do is consider how far we have come together in a short period of time.
Just over 150 years ago slavery was an institution in this country. One hundred years ago women could not vote in America. Twenty-five years ago “internet” was a strange word used in only obscure sectors of society. In the moment it can seem that all is lost, but through the lens of history it is clear to me that the human race is defined by progress.
Think of the things we can do when we work towards a common vision. We have phones that can access the entirety of human knowledge in seconds. People are living longer than ever thanks to advances in medical science. We can build buildings that scrape the clouds. We can do just about anything when we work with a common purpose.
I have no words for those that lost loved ones in Paris. There is no healing that wound. However, I think if we unite as human beings determined to make the world a better place than it was yesterday, we honor those that lost their lives and defy the fear terrorism seeks to inflict.
Terrorism will never win because I believe that humanity ultimately tilts toward progress. Terrorism will never win because we are members of the human race, and collectively we decide and create the world in which we live. Let us keep building something great.