One Small Step for Man Unkind

candleGrowing up in a country not their own, attending school with children from all over the world, my children have the luxury of daily exposure to difference. Multiculturalism is more than just a box ticked on a syllabus, more than a buzzword. It’s not something to be merely tolerated, but celebrated.

I’m ashamed to admit it’s not always something I pay attention to myself, especially when the celebrations are far removed from my own experience. So when my second-grader came home earlier this week full to the brim with information about the Hindu festival of Diwali, I nodded and clucked absently.

“It’s a celebration of good over evil,” he said to me as we were walking home from school.

“You must have really been paying attention,” I said.

But I wasn’t paying attention. Not really.

I didn’t give our conversation much thought until last night, when gunman in Paris tore open a hole into the evil. When it momentarily seemed as if evil had won.

I am not an expert in Hindu celebrations, my knowledge comes from research gleaned at the tips of my fingers, but at its most basic, Diwali is a festival of lights: a celebration of light over darkness, of knowledge over ignorance, of good over evil.

There are times like last night when that celebration seems premature. This morning, as I read the news coming out of France it seemed certain that the darkness was encroaching, consuming. That evil was winning.

And yet as long as there has been darkness, there has been light. As long as there has been evil, there has been good.

Mankind, or manunkind as my favorite poet penned, has a capacity for darkness that boggles the mind to contemplate. A bleak and black core that eclipses any light around it.

And yet this capacity for darkness is not new, it’s not different. It is the same angry song sung to a different tune. There has always been evil in the hearts of man-unkind. Yet so far good has triumphed in the end. It is the core of mythology, of legend, of poetry and song, of history.

We see it on a smaller scale daily. We read about it in newspapers. And times, like last night, we watch it unfold live across a television screen, across a Twitter feed.

And yet somehow there is always light. A pinprick, a lamppost, a guiding light. We saw it last night as the citizens of Paris opened their homes to those stranded and scared. Sometimes that light is a beacon to others: a star hanging over the city Bethlehem, oil to burn a lamp for an eighth night, the light of a thousand candles lighting up the darkness of a new moon.

Make no mistake. Evil is there, within a heart of darkness or hiding behind the pretense of a God. But darkness is not religious, not the work of anyone’s God. Darkness is the enjoyment of chaos, of terror, of killing. It is blood lust that feeds only on itself.

The methods change, the religion, the costume. Swords, concentration camps, bombs, guns.

And yet, somehow there is light.

On nights like last night, it’s easy to feel consumed by the darkness, by the unkind in man. It is easy to look at the horror and terror, at the atrocities we seem to be capable of inflicting upon one another in the name of something altogether unholy and think there is no way of stopping it.

Perhaps we won’t stop it–not completely. But as long as there is more light than dark, more knowledge than ignorance, more good than evil, there is still reason to celebrate. To light a star on top of a tree or a menorah or a candle lighting up the night of the new moon.

My heart bleeds for Paris, but it bleeds as well for victims of darkness we don’t read about, oreiffel-tower-black-and-white-poster write about, or publicly stand with. My heart bleeds for those without a beacon right now. Those is Syria, in Nigeria, in places where the news cycles have become so inundated we’ve become immune, or worse, apathetic.

As my children are encouraged to become more familiar with the unfamiliar, as they are encouraged to learn about the traditions and celebrations, the lifestyles of others, not merely to tolerate but to celebrate those differences, I wonder.

Maybe this is the way good will win. Maybe it is the way light will triumph.







14 Comments Add yours

  1. Kristen says:

    Beautifully said.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thank you Kristen. These are always hard, and I’m so grateful that the blog offers me the vanity (and it is really) of working through my feelings in words. Usually it offers a degree of, if not comfort, than at least awareness.


  2. Beautifully put. Those of us without darkness in our hearts need to continue to help that light shine.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thank you. On nights like that, it’s hard to remember that we all are capable of shining that light. It seems so deep and distant–but I guess that’s when it becomes most important to shine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My poem today says just that!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel says:

    So true Dina, as always, thank you for your beautiful writing.
    I was struck this morning, after hearing the news in Paris & checking my sister & her family were ok I went to my local Lebanese grocer. I asked why he didn’t seem himself – he told me he felt shocked at the bombings and shootings in Paris, and sad about the bombs in Beirut. Beirut? I hadn’t heard… his nephew, cousin and her family were victims in the bombings two days ago. He said he didn’t feel frightened, he just wished he could understand why.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thanks, Rachel. I did know about the bombings in Beirut, but I noticed the lack of social media response after the Paris attacks. There is far too much sorrow to go around, you wonder how much your heart can stand at times. Until you remember how strong the heart it. Trite, but true.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paola says:

    You’ve already created goodness and light over darkness with your poetic combination of words Dina, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      A high compliment indeed, Paola. Thank you very much.


  5. Scott says:

    Not gonna lie, I fail to see much light these days. It seems we’re all living under a perpetual eclipse.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      My little one (7.5) is really into WWII at the moment. We were watching some sort of “lost films” of WWII the other night and there was an Austrian immigrant to the US who described his experience watching the events in Europe unfold–and he said something very similar to what you just said. I imagine he must have felt like there was a perpetual eclipse as well. Sometimes in the worst of stories, you find a little bit of hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Scott says:

        True. I guess I just don’t look for it.


      2. Dina Honour says:

        Most of us don’t, myself included most of the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. ekbrenner says:

    Beautiful post.


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