The importance of responding to horrific events


We are awash in news of terrible violence. The tragic human capacity for taking the lives of others is on awful display in these days, from the scores killed by terror in France this week to the police officers murdered in Dallas to the black lives ended at the hands of police. It is easy to become numb, to retreat from a world that seems to have gone crazy, from humanity that seems determined to showcase its inhumanity. But there is something very important about our responses, whether they manifest in tears, in anger, in words, in protests, or in the confusion of our own thoughts. When we react with horror, yes, even to the most recent awful event in a string of awful events, we testify to the firmness of our convictions and the strength of our ideals even in the face of those who would destroy them. We hold up the values of Torah: the sanctity of life, the prohibition of violence, and the command not to stand idly by the blood of our fellow human beings. Our responses can feel futile, like reeds held against a hurricane, but in fact they are crucial parts of upholding divine values in a world of human action that is far from divine. So please don’t stop. Keep responding, keep holding tight to the precious ideals that we hold dear, and keep demanding more of the world and the human beings in it. Together, we will find a way forward.