Image courtesy Brit/Flickr.
It’s easy to feel despair in the wake of evil.
I read a post on Facebook after the Boston Marathon bombing from a person who wondered if she wanted to keep living after such a senseless, cruel, horrible act of violence. I sympathized. How do we cope with such insanity? How do we hold on to our belief in goodness?
Over the many hours that followed the bombings, practically all I read – on Facebook, through Twitter, and in the news – were outpourings of support and love and care for the victims and their families, and for the city of Boston itself. I read nothing that was cruel or heartless; nothing that supported the bombings; nothing that reveled in suffering.
No, millions of people are expressing love and compassion.
There is darkness in the world. There is cruelty and meanness and wanton violence and political violence. But they are ultimately small acts in the face of massive goodness – awful as they are when they happen. History shows a consistent and relentless shift toward greater democracy, greater understanding and tolerance, greater acceptance. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” and he was right.
Don’t we see this everywhere: Women voting and going to school; civil rights spreading across the globe; gays and lesbians receiving equal rights in many countries and states; animals receiving protections (albeit still far too limited) unheard of in previous centuries; global outcry against injustice, against exploitation, against environmental destruction?
Are our violent tendencies gone? Of course not. But we are not cheering at the Coliseum as slaves entertain thousands in fights to the death. Instead, we are crying by the millions as our fellow citizens are injured and killed by bombs detonated at a hallmark of our physical achievement: the Boston Marathon.
Let’s remember this: For every person who is evil, there are countless people who are deeply kind. For every murderer, there are people coming to the aid of strangers in droves. For every act of senseless violence, there are thousands of acts of meaningful goodness.
There is a way to speed the arc of the moral universe toward justice. It is through humane education: education of the mind so that we understand each other across borders and cultural boundaries; education of the heart so that we care enough to build a world of kindness toward all people, all species, and the earth itself; education of the hands so that we have the skills and the tools to solve our still very significant challenges, with our wisdom and compassion as our guides.
Let’s commit to this then, to humane education. Let’s make such acts as the bombing at the Boston Marathon, as the abuse of a child, the rape of a woman, the cruelty toward an animal the story of history.
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm; Above All, Be Kind; and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach“
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxYouth@CEHS “How to Be a Solutionary”
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Filed under: humane education, MOGO (Most Good) | Tagged: bombing, boston marathon, compassion, despair, evil, goodness, hope, humane education, Kindness, Most Good Least Harm, violence | 1 Comment »