On Armistice Sunday when we remember all those who died in two world wars, and those who have died in action since, we might wonder why we fail to learn the lessons of war and hate.
In a week where each of us felt the shockwaves of fear and anger following the American Presidential Election – not dissimilar to the consternation here in the UK and Europe over Brexit – it’s hard not to feel anxious about the dissolution of the old order. Add to this potent cocktail the continuing horrors in Syria and the Middle East and the millions of displaced peoples, the sufferings of the poor and the abused and the sick, and the ongoing damage to the environment – and anxiety can give way to despair.
But instead of feeling overwhelmed by the darkness, we need to stay strong and hold on to the light – which is always there, if not always visible. Rather than buying into the prevailing distress, we need an outpouring of love. Unless we open our hearts and are kinder to one another, there will only be yet more hate and more war.
While there is darkness, cruelty, injustice and greed in our world, there is at the same time goodness and beauty. It is up to us to seek it out and magnify it as best we can. We can act in a kind and peaceful way, going about our daily activities with compassion. We can chose love, and we can spread it to all those we share our lives with – in our homes, our communities and beyond. We can help make the world a better place for all when we turn our back on the clamour and cynicism and make the conscious choice of love over hate.
This week also saw the passing of one of my heroes, the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who had spent a lifetime looking for the glimmer of light in dark places. His timeless songs help us make sense of the darkness – what an amazing legacy to leave our broken world!
For all our brokenness though, let’s summon all the hope and love we can. In Leonard Cohen’s profound words:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.