We live in a sad, sad world. If the recent events in Paris prove anything, it proves that. Eight angry young men took 129 lives and injured 352 more. There are now over one hundred souls that will no longer be with us. Families and friends last Friday night lost their smiles, their laughter, their tears, their joys. Parents lost children. Brothers lost sisters. Husbands lost wives. Wives lost husbands. Sisters lost brothers. Children lost parents. Lovers lost their beloveds. And we all lost a little bit of ourselves.
Perhaps one of those lost might have created a cure for cancer, wrote the next great novel, created a new source of energy, offered a Syrian refugee family their home. We lost the children who would be born to those victims and make a better world.
We lost that future all because a bunch of mad bullies in the Middle East have grudges and want to use religion to defend the inexcusable. They are indeed false prophets and betray the very religion they say they advocate. They are those who offer no hope, no love, only hate and fear. And that is not Islam. They are to be pitied, not feared. They won’t win.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen a man land on the moon. I’ve seen the personal computer, the internet and gps technologies develop and be available for billions. I’ve seen the Berlin Wall fall and an Evil Empire dissolve. I’ve admired the fierceness of Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart. I’ve seen the compassion of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. I’ve seen Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy wrestle with the enemies of peace and justice. I’ve seen Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela stand against hate and make peace with those who were their enemies. I’ve seen those true prophets, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, show us the best of what religion can be.
I’ve watched Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov dance, seen the paintings of Cezanne, Monet and Georgia O’Keefe and the sculpture of Henry Moore and Rodin, read Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert and Albert Camus, been in awe of the work of Jane Goodall, watched William Shakespeare and Samuel Becket performed on stage, listened to Mozart and Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf and the Beatles and Yusuf Islam, read the poetry of Rumi and Omar Khayyam, seen the films of Claude Berri and Louis Malle.
I’ve seen hope and love so great that they rolled over the forces of hate and fear like a steamroller, giving us a better world and showing us possibility. I’m here to tell you that these achievements were not made out of the clay of hate and fear. These s.o.b.s have nothing, I repeat nothing, that even comes close to this. And hate and fear never shall.
As long as there is one of us who laugh and shed tears, love and know joy, have compassion for the least, and create wonder, these demons, who would destroy us, will not win.
So in honor of all those who died last Friday, and all who have died from the hands of those who would tear down and destroy, I offer this