Following the frightening and sad events in Boston last week, we came across two commentaries, from very different kinds of sources. These commentaries reflect a common and poignant theme – kindness and humanity prevail, even in the most unspeakably tragic moments. One is from comedian Patton Oswalt and the other from a Christian Minister, Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto.
We offer these excerpts as a prayer, for all those impacted by this tragedy.
Patton Oswalt on Facebook (excerpt)
“I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, ‘Well, I’ve had it with humanity.’
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem…But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out… But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good out number you, and we always will.’”
From Rev. Dr. Eric D. Berretto, “Love and Hope in the Wake of Boston”
We should have stopped trying by now. We should have thrown up our hands in despair and cried, “Enough.” We should have relented by now, given up any hope that our lives would cease being punctuated by random violence. We should have stopped hoping for something different.
But we haven’t.
Not when planes crashed from the skies. Not when bullets stilled the vibrant energy of an elementary school. Not when the the quotidian violence of our neighborhoods rip apart communities and the media pays no heed. Not when death strikes so indiscriminately, so cruelly.
And we didn’t stop hoping yesterday when a moment of victory for runners and spectators was shattered by crude violence. First responders and onlookers alike rushed to the aid of others in the midst of potential danger. My Facebook wall lit up with prayers and cries of hope. In response to casual cruelty, the world reacted with compassion.
It may be that despite the many instances of malice that seek to tear us apart and to cause us to lose hope what binds us together is stronger. It may be that “love never ends” as the Apostle Paul once wrote to a Corinthian church community fraying at its edges. Love, he said, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7).
This is not the sappy love of pop songs or the fleeting infatuations we incorrectly label as love. This love, true love is at the very core of whom God has made us to be. This is persistent love, love that refuses to give into the cruelties of this world. This is an indefatigable love.
As a Christian, my faith has shown me that God dwells in love, inhabits love, embodies love. This radiant, ever-present love is the source of my hope in times like these.
And this love binds us not because we believe the same things or attend the same church or even because we are citizens of the same nation. This love binds us because we are humans created in the very image of God. In moments of great inhumanity, it is the miracle of God’s love that our true humanity, what most makes us the people God created us to be, crowds out the darkness. In the end, it is our love for another that shines most brightly.
When we heal the wounded, we love one another. When we pray for the grieving, we love one another. When we hope against hope for a better world, we love one another. The perpetrators of violence never succeed as long as love abides.
By this point, we should have stopped the race, given up hope of ever seeing the finish line. We should have counted all our hopes as vanity and delusion.
But we don’t because even on a day like yesterday, love wins. Love always wins.