I’m thinking about Nice, France.
My dad called me last night, in a rage. No, not about the man who plowed a truck through crowds of Bastille Day revelers, killing 80 or more. He hadn’t heard about that.
He was angry because a bank manager had treated him unfairly, denied him his rights. In his words, “an unctuous arrogant little man humiliated” him.
Dad wanted to vent. But he also wanted revenge. He wanted the little man to suffer for his crimes. To get fired or reprimanded. To be humiliated.
My dad is a good man. Kind, patient, infinitely generous. He gives to charity and feeds the crows in the winter.
Surely a man who can love crows can also love his fellow man? Not, apparently, when that man uses his power to make him feel powerless.
It’s human nature. Are any of us any different?
The man driving that truck made us feel powerless and afraid. He may be dead, but there are others just like him. We want them to suffer for his crimes, or their future crimes. We want revenge.
It may be human nature, but it’s wrong.
Violence and hatred are seeds with only one fruit. More violence and hatred.
Sure, it’s easy to dismiss the man who drove the truck as evil. Sick. Twisted by his religion. Not Like Us. More difficult to seek to understand what drove him to think killing random innocent people would be a good thing to do on a Thursday afternoon.
It’s common knowledge that Arabs in France are ghettoized and treated as second-class citizens.
Perhaps the driver, like my father had been humiliated, made to feel powerless. Maybe he wanted revenge.
Not to excuse what he did. Only to understand it. So that we can react to this horrific act in a way that goes against human nature, but is our only hope for a peaceful future.
As natural as it is to be afraid and close our doors and hearts to people Not Like Us, if we want to prevent similar attacks, we must do the opposite.
Open our arms.
Seek to understand.