No options, just love
Yesterday we saw the worst of humanity - a fatal, crazed attack on innocent people in Westminster - and we saw the best. A brave, unarmed policeman who lost his life defending others, and the quiet heroism of those who ran to his aid; hospital staff who instinctively rushed over to help, not waiting for the area to be declared safe; and so many others, whose contribution may never be known except by those to whom it mattered. And as some sought to stir up hatred and division there were more and louder voices urging unity and togetherness - yes, and love.
Sixteen years ago I heard a homily just a few days after 9/11 in which the priest, a Sacred Hearts father, reminded us that so many of the passengers, facing imminent death, spent their last few minutes phoning their families with messages of love. That message, of love's enduring power and the instinctive rush to it, has stayed with me, moderating anger and sustaining hope in times of darkness and terror.
And it is a message which many others have heard and shared. Again and again in the past 24 hours I have seen articles and tweets urging people to pull together, to focus on shared values and humanity, to remember the love and bravery of the victims, not the hatred of the attacker. As Brendan Cox tweeted, from the Trafalgar Square vigil, "London has not fallen, it has risen. Against hatred. Together." And this is how we need to continue: Against hatred. Together.
This morning's email reflection from 40 Acts (daily Lenten challenges) drew its inspiration from the Amish who, hours after a horrific shooting in their community, said, "We must not think evil of this man." It reminded us that "in these moments of terror and uncertainty we must never forget that we can control one important thing, how we react." No options or actions were suggested, just radical, generous love; an extension of hope, an offering of compassion.
And really, for people of faith and goodwill, there can be no options; there can only be love...