Last Friday, the global community was shocked and saddened by a string of terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France. Approximately 130 people lost their lives that day and 350 remain injured. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the massacre. Aiming to stoke and cripple nations with fear and anxiety, ISIS has vowed to strike against the U.S. and any country that joins France in launching airstrikes in response to their Paris attack. This is a group who takes pride in committing horrific, inhumane acts against men, women and children from all walks of life. We have witnessed for the last two years or so; their abhorrent crimes dominate the international news cycle. So we are all disturbingly familiar with the lengths this extremist group will go, to proselytize their ideology. As vigorous debates ensue over how our government should or shouldn’t respond militarily, I want to provide some simple steps the average person can take to defeat ISIS. That sounds like bold claim. That’s because it is. But hear me out. Yes, YOU, reading this blog can stop ISIS dead in their tracks. By doing this:
Be Kind to Your Neighbor
There was a time when we knew the names and quirks of all the individuals/families that lived on our block, building, or building floor. When we took a moment to greet the mailman, or have a brief conversation with someone in passing. Yet due to the distracted-task-driven-constantly-on-the-go-glued-to-my-mobile-device-society we are currently living in, we are missing a sense of community amongst folks in our own neighborhoods. We can take simple steps to change that. Greet your neighbor warmly the next time your paths cross. Compliment something they’re wearing just to start a conversation. Let’s take those tiny steps to foster community again. Be kind.
Grieve with Those Who are Grieving
We mourn with France over the lives that were lost last week. Why? Because it hurts. We should also acknowledge that feeling of pain, anger, and frustration when it rises up on the inside of us, when we hear of injustice anywhere. When our friends, neighbors, co-workers and associates are hurting, somewhere deep within us, should ache. Rather than ignore or deny that feeling, we should acknowledge it. A terrorist is someone who has lost a sense of compassion for their fellow man. We defy this kind of evil when we acknowledge pain over the senseless loss of life. We grieve with those who grieve because it’s the humane thing to do.
Do NOT Panic
That’s exactly what ISIS wants. To instill mass panic and cripple the spirit of nations and societies that opposes them. With the threats, constant news coverage, and actual attacks, it would make sense to feel some level of anxiety. Acknowledge the feeling. But don’t embrace it. Don’t allow that feeling to remain. Address the fear by saying out loud; what it is you’re actually afraid of. Is it death? Well the grave has a 100% acceptance rate. We will all end up there someday. Or is it the idea of dying too soon? Worrying about when you die won’t change what will eventually happen one day, but as long as you are still breathing your purpose on this earth isn’t complete…so get to work! If the anxiety remains, pursue hobbies that inspire you and make you feel at peace. Or engage in a new activity that you’ve been meaning to, but haven’t. Channel that negative emotion in a positive direction and it will produce joy.
Watching or reading the news can feel overwhelming as you hear about one terrible event after the other. Terrorist groups like ISIS would have us believe that evil is running rampant. But the truth is good has and will always overcome evil. Light always shines brightest in the midst of great darkness. So even in the midst of the devastating Paris attacks, light was shining by the heroism displayed that night. And we can shine our light in our neighborhoods and local communities when we donate our time, canned foods, and clothing to charitable organizations that provide dignity to others. We can shine our light when we demonstrate patience and speak words of peace in the midst of tense situations. We can shine our light in our homes as we love our families, appreciate our friendships and cultivate an atmosphere of peace by giving the love we ultimately long to receive.