We Are Inherently Good People – A Reflection On the Westminster Attack

The aftermath of this attack is what I am wrestling with most. It’s what we’ve seen time and time again. After the attacks in Brussels, Paris, Orlando, etc. It’s the sudden humanity that resurfaces after we’ve enshrouded it with a demeanor of “let me worry about me.” One thing we forget about ourselves is that we are inherently good people. We have good intentions. In the aftermath of terrorism, that’s one of the only times we show this part of ourselves. It’s the most saddening truth that I’ve had to contend with over the years.

I remember hearing a story told by a friend named Patti Ann. She told a story about a preacher who came and was speaking to a room full of teenagers. She was there, in that room, on that day. The preacher had a fishbowl with a goldfish swimming inside as he delivered the message up on stage. Towards the end of his message, he picked up the fishbowl, and dropped it on the floor. The glass shattered. Silence canopied the room. No one moved. No one blinked. No one spoke. The only audible sound in the room was the goldfish quivering and flapping as it was hopelessly lying in its own coffin. After about 30 seconds, a girl from the back of the room ran to the front with tears streaming down the sides of her face yelling “WHY ISN’T ANYONE DOING ANYTHING?!” 

We are that audience. We see someone in need and we callously say to ourselves “I don’t know them. I’m sure they’ll be fine.” I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been the helping hand and I’ve also been the hand in need of help. I’ve failed far more than I have succeeded. But again, we are inherently good people. This should be seen both in the aftermath of a terrorist attack and even on a random Thursday afternoon in a local shop. These connections are what make our lives valuable and meaningful. We’re on this earth to help others, not harm them. The overflow of love that was seen after the attack last week far outweighed the hatred that was exercised on that bridge Wednesday afternoon.

After recounting the events that transpired on this day and in terrorist attacks in the past, the overt feeling is fear. Fear can become hatred. Fear can become hostility. Fear can become our crutch. It has a sinister way of camouflaging as something we have to rely on without us ever realizing. I had many, many fears with choosing to study abroad. The fear of being an American. The fear of being black. The fear of terrorism in Europe. The fear of terrorism around the world. The fear of the unknown. I could go on forever listing all the things I feared fear, but I choose to live in spite of them. I’m ready to remind the world that beyond the surface, we are all inherently good.

 

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