After all, what is more optimistic than two people sharing their love on a day that marks the beginning of a new year? We celebrated the beginning of Teddy and Ali’s life together, and then, when midnight hit, the afterburners kicked in and we went whole hog into New Year optimism and happiness.
One week later, we are faced with the insanity that is the murders at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
While watching the wedding ceremony, I realized that marriages are happening every day, in every time zone, in every culture — and focusing on these loving events is a very real antidote for the hatred that seems to be spreading over our troubled world. Certainly there are parents in every culture, Islamist, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, or others who bask in the happiness of watching their children find and wed their loved ones. Surely, these parents want their children to survive, to thrive and to create families. Who can attend a wedding and not want the world to be a better, more peaceful place?
So, how distant must the zealot Paris murderers be from the values of family, the love of community, and the meaning of life? What world are they living in… and where are their parents? How can their ideology be more valuable than human life? The God of the Old Testament asks Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test of faith. As Abraham prepares to do so, God releases him of the obligation, because what loving God could possibly ask a father to kill his son?
What can we do against an enemy with no moral compass? I’m afraid we must expose them as the murderers they are. And how can we do that? Short term, we can unite in our opposition to their behavior, we can punish the people who fund them, and we can rise in defense of those whom they most brutally oppress. Long term, however, and most importantly, we can teach our children to recognize hate-speech, bullies, and bad behavior and to oppose it when they see it.
We advise newlyweds to compromise, to listen to each other, and to “never go to bed angry” (to which one young wedding attendee replied, “Just stay up all night fighting!”). We counsel them to communicate about their differences in order to find peace. Yet, we seem unable to do this on a larger scale.
So, let’s start small.
My resolution this year is to ask each of us to think about the weddings that happen around us every day, and to resolve — like all brides and grooms — to work on our relationships, to find a middle ground, and to contribute to making our world a happier home for us, our children, and our children’s children.