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One man’s thoughts on the Paris attacks

Fear. Anger. Sadness. Horror. They are all natural reactions to the wave of terror in Paris, City of Light. But there is one other reaction that--difficult though it may be to acknowledge, let alone embody, in times like this—is required of us if we are ever to emerge out of the endless violence and division consuming our planet.

Somehow, we must find the strength to pause for a moment, and instead of merely feeling outrage and fear and calling for vengeance on the perpetrators and all those who agree with them and are their accomplices, go deep into our own heart and consider an ancient truth.

“We are one.”

I have no idea when this truth was first planted in the divine soil of our own consciousness.

But I do know this: If we are to survive these times in which we live and see unfold in our lives the joy and peace that is our birthright, we must honor this ancient truth. Putting it another way, we must honor the love that is at the core of our being.

Love, it has been said, is comprised of wisdom and compassion. These are the wings upon which love soars.

Impossible, implausible, and counter-intuitive though it may seem, if we are to be true to the true nature of love, that is to say, true to ourselves, we must acknowledge that it is not only the victims of the Paris attacks and their loved ones who deserve our compassion.

The young men who carried out the vicious attacks on innocent people in Paris--and all those who inspired them to do their terrible deeds—also deserve our compassion. They thought they were doing the right thing. I doubt very much they thought of themselves as “evil.”

What was it Jesus said? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

This is obviously a very difficult, and very tender subject to write about. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you may like to share on the above. I send love and blessings to you.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucille November 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Thank you, Chris, for your beautiful and powerful expression of love and compassion. Indeed, it is and should always be, even in our own immediate circumstances when something is done to us that is not very pleasant, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, because if they did know they would not act contrary to God’s Love. This has been much in my own consciousness recently, even before the incident in Paris, regarding my own forgiving of others—this doesn’t mean I look down on anyone for what they do. There is Love, there is compassion, there is forgiveness—it’s not up to my human nature to be selective in this.

Our Master so perfectly revealed this to us when He was hanging on the cross, regardless of what was imposed upon Him—He forgave! We and I can do this with respect to the terrorists—of course, they are far away from here, but we and I know that forgiveness of others is done closer to home—in our interactions with others when it is needed…and done in the Spirit of Love. It was a joy to read your message of love and compassion regarding everyone—the victims in Paris and as well as the terrorists.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 9:58 am

Lucille, thank you so much for your warm-hearted, insightful words. I especially appreciate the way you bring this consideration right close to home, to our own daily experience. We truly are all in this together.

This said, I’ve been thinking a bit more about this reality we call love, and how wisdom and compassion really do work together–to refer back to the analogy in my post, they are the “wings” that make it possible for the power of love to express effectively through us. We can’t really separate the two. Where there is compassion, there is wisdom–the wisdom to see what needs to be done, for example (or not done) as regards the threat of terrorism, or the wisdom to see where we need to change our ways in some area of our lives. And by the same token, where there is wisdom, there is compassion.

Again, Lucille, I am so grateful for your comment. Blessings and love to you.

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Allana November 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Staying steady in the face of these acts of horror is not easy. Much more natural to meet anger and hatred with the same. We all know how to do that. But if this senseless circle of hatred and violence is ever to end it requires those who will not compromise their principles of love , compassion and understanding; those who, though saddened beyond measure by the actions, will be willing to send a pulse of blessing into the entire circumstance and a prayer for awakening to us all.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 10:23 am

Thank you for this beautiful expression Allana. To be sure, it isn’t always easy to stay steady in these difficult, dangerous times. A couple of things that help, in my experience, are these. First, it always seems to help when I remind myself (or my wife reminds me) that we can only do our best. And second, the older I get, the more I realize how helpful it can be sometimes to change my mind about something when this is appropriate:-). My love to you Allana.

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Ruud November 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Thank you Christopher.
Back to silence and deep listening and be aware what occupies our inner landscape, to discern what is really happening in the outer and inner world, to respond in a balanced way from compassion. The real causes of these terrible happenings have to be addressed, which will create a better world.
In Oneness,
Ruud.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 10:37 am

It’s good to hear from you Ruud. You get right to the essence of things. It is so true, as you say, that it is in stillness and listening that we will find our way, whether as individuals or as a whole. It’s good to be with you in this journey. I send love and best wishes.

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Durwin Foster November 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm

I agree in the sense of this not being an either/ or situation. The perpetrators need to be neutralized so that they are rendered completely incapable of causing further harm, AND we can carry this out with an attitude of compassion.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 10:43 am

Durwin, bless you and thank you. How right you are. The universe is very balanced–to my perception–in the way it handles itself. We too must be balanced in our approach, for only so will we find our way.

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Susan Minarik November 15, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Thank you.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 10:44 am

Thank you Susan. Take care.

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Nancy Leefe November 15, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Wow! You are a brave soul to speak it! And as you also say it is a tender subject to talk about. I must admit that there are times where I feel that the “we are one” is a hard pill to swallow! Where I find I am separating myself and in that creating the “us and them” scenario! It is very subtle and has me go unconscious! I appreciate your words and the reminder of the first law, love one another! No matter what, I might add at times like these.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 10:56 am

Nancy, thank you. Beautiful words, powerful words. It’s where our wars come from, isn’t it, this “us and them” scenario. At the same time I do agree that the pill we’re speaking about here can be a bit difficult to swallow sometimes. Thank you for giving me a little chuckle as I thought about this for a moment in terms of my own practical experience, it seems to me that once I bashed a pill into little pieces in order to get it down…

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Julia Ditterich November 16, 2015 at 12:38 am

Absolutely agree. I feel real sadness for those especially who chose to kill themselves in these attacks, because they are sending such a clear message about their lack of hope for something good, and compassionate, and within reach for themselves here, on this earth. Amidst the killing of those innocents it is hard to see them as anything other than evil, but our best protection from terrorism is offering a future where life itself is worth living.

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Christopher Foster November 16, 2015 at 11:30 am

Your words are beautiful Julia. I think I will let them speak for themselves. Thank you so much for your comment, and I send love and blessings to you.

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Maureen November 16, 2015 at 9:46 am

Christopher, thank you for your brave words, which once again cut through to the tender truth. As I listen to our president speak of the tragic events in Paris, I send love and compassion his way as well as to other world leaders. Their burden is heavy as they work to understand and try to protect innocent citizens.

We know to answer hate with hate perpetuates chaos and suffering; answering with love is the only option if we are to begin to create a peaceful world. The work of love is long and arduous, but we can persevere by, as Lucille stated above, loving and forgiving those closest to us. Beginning in our own backyard by showing love, compassion and forgiveness plants the seed of love that grows outward. Christopher, I miss you and your lovely wife and wish you much love and joy during this Thanksgiving season and always.

Maureen

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 10:40 am

It’s always very good to hear from you, Maureen. Thank you for your honest, heart-felt words. I especially appreciate your expression of support for those in a leadership role who are surely doing their best in an extremely challenging situation. God bless and much love to you too this Thanksgiving season.

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Dennis Ledford November 16, 2015 at 10:00 am

I understand the verse. We are human and it is hard not to feel anger and want revenge. It is hard for me to believe or understand they do not understand what they have just completed in Paris. I do forgive but I do not forget.

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 10:32 am

Thank you Dennis. I think your words are strong and fair. I find there is always some paradox in life. I do however also believe that we are less fearful and make better decisions when we make space for a bit of wisdom and compassion before we act.

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Evan Griffith November 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

Chris —

You leap so quickly to love and compassion after a horrific event . . . this is why I am an ardent follower. Because you lead me to where I need to go, far before I would get there on my own.

Evan
Evan Griffith recently posted..The backpack is the new briefcase (the new messenger bag too, hipsters)

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 9:57 am

Thank you and bless you Evan. It’s great to connect at this time. Hey, I like the title of your new post. Take care old friend.

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Kate November 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

Thank you for the reminder. I had lost compassion in my sorrow and anger.

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

Thank you Kate. My love to you.

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Paula November 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Thank you, Chris, for such a perfect articulation of the way many of us are feeling about these challenging issues. When we have the courage to speak out for understanding and true problem-solving, particularly in the face of public cries for war and revenge….we’re a step closer to peace.

This link does a good job of capturing your sentiments in music and video:
http://www.onejourney.net/

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 10:00 am

Thank you for your very encouraging and thoughtful comment Paula. It’s good to be on this journey with you. And thank you for the link, it’s going to be my next stop. Blessings.

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Dr. David Banner November 16, 2015 at 7:40 pm

My friend…my sentiments exactly. To think that these men were somehow different than me, is to deny the potential for violence in me. No, I am not going to act on it, but, yes, we ARE all one and to point fingers at those”bad people over there” is the height of hypocrisy, in my view. They obviously thought they were doing the right thing, according to their belief system. Therein lies the problem; the separated mind set. Believing we are separate from the whole is the crux of the problem!They are me and we can all rightly say that.

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Christopher Foster November 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

David, many thanks for your comment. You sum things up very clearly. We live in interesting times, don’t we. I sometimes think that there are two ways to look at it all. Yes, terrifying and disheartening things are happening. But back of it all, I believe something magnificent, irrevocable and all-powerful is working out. Truth is coming to the surface. The truth, so long denied, of our real nature, our divine nature. God bless.

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Michel November 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Dear Friend,
I am in total agreement with you when you say we need to offer compassion to all the people implicated in this Paris terrorist attack, if they only knew what they are creating, and how much they are being love, they would change their ways.
One with You,
Michel

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Christopher Foster November 18, 2015 at 10:59 am

Thank you Michel, as always it feels very good every time I hear from you. I hope all goes very well. Blessings.

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Hitesh Israni November 28, 2015 at 1:24 am

Thank you Christ for this post. I think everyone who read this post is agree with you and your great thoughts.

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Mercury December 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm

I just don’t understand how you could possibly think killing over a hundred people is doing the right thing. I think the idea that killing is evil is inherent in all of us regardless of religion.
Mercury recently posted..How To Stop Overthinking: Is It Even Possible?

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Christopher Foster December 31, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Thank you for your comment Mercury, and I’m sorry for the delay in responding. But just to be clear, I don’t think killing over a hundred people is doing the right thing!!! I was trying to suggest that those who carried out that terrible attack THOUGHT they were doing the right thing (or they wouldn’t have done it).

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Dev January 6, 2016 at 6:01 am

Wow! You are a brave soul to speak it! And as you also say that it is a touchy subject to talk about it. I must admit that there are times when the feeling that “we are one” is to swallow a hard pill where I! Where can I find I abstained and the fact that the creation of “us and them” scenario! It is very subtle and made me go unconscious! I appreciate your words and the memory of the first law, love one another!

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Christopher Foster February 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

Dev, thank you for this lovely comment. I’m so sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I’m touched by your words, and belated though this is, I send you best wishes for a happy 2016.

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Sam February 19, 2016 at 5:05 am

Thank you Chris for this nice post. I think everyone who read this post is agree with you and your great thoughts.

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Christopher Foster February 23, 2016 at 9:52 am

Thank you Sam. It’s good to hear from you. Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I wish you all the very best.

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Sam February 19, 2016 at 5:06 am

Thank you for your very encouraging and thoughtful comment Paula ….

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