Who could not have been moved by last Sunday's manif in Paris, the rare show of solidarity from world leaders, the grief of the diverse crowd?
While watching, my e-mail pinged with messages from friends: a Jew, a several atheists, a Protestant minister, a Muslim. How grateful I am that we are in touch.
I also sought articles, posts, press coverage, trying not to read only the views that echoed my own, which is not easy. One of the most insightful pieces was Andres O'Hehir's "Why the Charlie Hebo attack goes far beyond religion and free speech", posted on Salon.
And I wondered, as I do during each soul-shattering event like this, What can the average person do, now? One word keeps coming back: connect.
By that I mean the lunches and dinners I've had (and should do more of) with colleagues and friends from diverse backgrounds, times when we've taken maybe longer than we should have during the work day, or stretched dinner into the late evening as we explored the bases of our beliefs, told our life stories. Even those from historically conflict-ridden histories have found new respect for one another.
I mean the courses and workshops that have led me out of comfortable affinity groups and unconscious stereotypes; the on-the-fly talks with neighbours and the owner of a local hole-in-the-wall. Pick-up softball, community green alleys, interfaith retreats, family camps: you name it, as long as the people who show up are not one homogeneous chunk.
My minister friend attends a regular meeting of Protestant and Muslim women. They gather for a simple meal, conversation, and a reflection led by one of the faiths. (She said it took about a year for the women to open up, but now everyone values it.)
There are other opportunities out there for the taking, and I hope to do more of that.
don't show up to those kinds of gatherings and I've no illusions about
the odds of open communication once someone chooses the tactics of terror.
The solution to that level of brutality is not in my sights.
But it is vitally important to engage with just regular folks, for we are the vast majority.
we begin to talk to one another,
how can we live in harmony? I am always looking for small steps that
build bridges toward what I have observed that vast majority of people
of all faiths (and none) want: peace.