Oh Barcelona! Beautiful city. Home and host to the Temple of Light, unsurpassed art, my nephew, and a host of international friends; beautiful, warm city where only months ago 160,000 compassionate and humane citizens marched in favour of opening wide gates of welcome to desperate refugees from Syria – how are we to retain optimism tonight?
How are we to avoid sounding cheap or trite when our hearts reach out to friends, some as close as family, in these days of bewilderment in the United States of America? Or Berlin, Brussels, Damascus, Homs, Jerusalem, London, Manchester, Nice, Paris, Stockholm …? I do not know.
I only know that I must reach out, holding fast to – and speaking frequently of – the kind of optimism that on the surface of things simply doesn’t make sense on evenings and in weeks like these. Holding fast to the kind of optimism (if that’s even the right word?) that insists every day on recognising the height and depth and breadth of goodness that does, truly, exist in the heart of humankind, though loud and shocking minorities work to have us believe otherwise.
Human love and tenderness, hospitality and welcome, compassion and forgiveness, holding fast to good – these things are not controlled by, nor in the gift of lawmakers, nor the ‘politically correct,’ nor presidents, princes, preachers or praters; not controlled by, nor in the gift of the demanding, the domineering, the fanatical, the leering, the violent, nor those who have difficulty hearing anything but the sound of their own tragic, woeful ignorance.
Optimism, the hope of the world, human love and tenderness, hospitality and welcome, compassion and forgiveness, holding fast to good, walking hand in hand, standing shoulder to shoulder – these things are in the gift of the majority of humankind – whose hearts lurch in horror as they think on events in Barcelona today, or in Charlottesville just days ago.
‘They tried to kill my child, shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,’ said Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro …
Height, depth and breadth! Love in the mothering heart of just one humane human that may leave us speechless for a while. Speechless but not hopeless. Our task, wherever we are in this wounded yet still beautiful old world, is to turn up the volume, not of rhetoric, but of Susan Bro-like optimism and magnifying love. Like a candle in the dark.