When we have nightmares, the first thing we do when we wake up from them is to turn on the light. When something bad has happened over the evening or the late hours, we cannot wait for the sky to lighten. When we are lost, people describe the place we are in as a ‘tunnel,’ and that there is always a light at the end of it. In different cultures, there are many festivals and events which celebrate the winning of light against darkness. When there is a blackout in the night, we make our way along corridors and enter rooms, while feeling surfaces for the matches, a flashlight, or a phone, just to see again. When others are lost, we are told to be the light to them, to guide them to what is true and what is good.
In light of recent events, different opinions on how the world should respond to these attacks in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, and in other war-torn countries surfaced. I asked myself too silently: what about the other countries? Other people asked this too. I realize that while we raised all of these opinions to ourselves, we forgot to grieve. I forgot to grieve. We raced to ask confidently why one place received more support and sympathy than the others. In the end, we are all the same – same people, same blood, flesh and bones, with families to love, with dreams to pursue. So we do what we can – as little as they may be – to show our support for those who died, for those who lost loved ones to terrorist acts, in the whole world. We do them in silence, in privacy, in art, in prayers, in words, in crying.
I pray that there will be no more tugs of war as to where grace should pour more of its hope. I pray that we do not challenge or downplay other people’s sympathy or awareness when all they are doing is sincerely and truly praying for others. Grace is needed everywhere – everyone needs it. This is a time for mourning and silence, not clashing; for lighting candles, and not blowing the flames out. This is a time for all of us to be one; we share the same humanity and values as those in the afflicted areas. This is a time to remember the innocent lives lost, to lift those who were hurt, to acknowledge and thank those who have helped the wounded, to those who were selfless and risked their safety to save other people, and to pray for the people behind the attacks – that the may see the light again, that this cycle of hatred, war, fear, violence, will end, that their hearts be softened, that they open themselves to repentance for what they have done, that they realize there is always a way for a scarred heart to heal and be good again, and it is through God’s love. It is contradictory and illogical and not to mention uncomfortable and difficult, to pray for the terrorists, but I need to remind myself over and over that Jesus died for them too. He died for His persecutors, for the people who jeered at Him and spat on Him, for the ones who made His walk unbearably agonizing and shameful.
This reminds me of a quote from Shane Claiborne which I read last 2013: “I believe in a God of scandalous grace. If I thought terrorists were beyond redemption, I would have to rip out half of my New Testament Scriptures, for they were written by a converted terrorist. I have pledged allegiance to a King who loved evildoers so much that he died for them, teaching us that there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for. While terrorists were nailing Him to the cross, my Jesus pleaded that they be shown mercy, for they knew not what they were doing. We are all wretched, and we are all beautiful. No one is beyond redemption. May we see in the hands of our oppressors our own hands, and in the faces of the oppressed our own faces. We are made of the same dust, and we cry the same salty tears.“
Jesus died for us without any guarantee that we would change for the better. Jesus died for us, while we were sinners. I still want to continue to believe in people’s goodness, in light, in contrition, in forgiveness, in love, in the faith that says that weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning. But more so, I want to continue believing that God cares for us all and loves us.
Let us pray for each other. Let us pray that we be light to one another. Imagine if we are to be light bearers – we may outshine the sun, and earth will become a good place again for kindness and care and dignity for people’s lives, regardless of nationality, religion, or belief, to thrive.