There have been so many terror attacks recently, this time in places not as internationally beloved as Paris. Despite the dearth of sympathy on social media, I am in danger of growing numb.
So I imagine I could be a Hindu priest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, picking flowers for a ceremony I am going to conduct. I could be shopping with my family for new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan in Baghdad, Iraq. I could be on pilgrimage, for which I’ve prepared my whole life, to a holy site in Medina, Saudi Arabia. I could be from any place in the world going to any place in the world, catching a flight at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey.
I think of the people, just trying to go about their daily lives to take care of their families, to do good work, to worship as their souls direct. I think of the people. They could be us. We could be them. And so I cry. Thankfully not numb, but so full of feeling for all of us on this precarious journey.
Their suffering is ours. Can we expand our hearts to feel this? Or are our hearts only big enough to feel the suffering of people who look like us, worship like us, speak our same language, have our same skin color?
With his flag, a global map in the form of hearts, Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, US), leader of contemporary American art, wanted to underline the spiritual dimension of tolerance:
“The globe opens out and becomes a heart resembling the hands Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which unite the creator to his creature. This heart asserts itself as a spiritual organ setting the tempo of life on earth.”
Here’s a way to grow our tender broken hearts bigger. Imagine the epicenters of suffering around the world. Bathe those areas with love: airdrop blessings, shower with spangles, or send the most exquisite colors.
Envision cooling waters soothing the fires out of control. Imagine irresistible love and belonging quelling bloodlust born of fear of not having a place here.
Imagine art and music and dance and theater that speaks universally. Imagine the beauty.
Imagine strangers falling in love despite/because of differences, making big complicated families. Imagine them sharing dishes and traditions down a long, crowded table.
Imagine kids from all backgrounds kicking a soccer ball or playing tag. Imagine them learning to reflect and respect themselves and others.
Imagine your heart grown large enough to feel safe. Imagine your biggest anti-terror weapon is love. It is.