Sadly, it feels like I have written this post several times before: another day, another act of terrorism.
Germany suffered another terrorist attack yesterday, this one at a Christmas Market in Berlin. 12 people were killed and 48 injured by a tractor trailer that plowed into a crowd of people.
Reactions were predictable: outrage and mourning, despair yet solidarity. A wave of terrorism has swept across Europe this year and there is no end in sight. Political leaders are calling for action while the deep undercurrent of disgust is visible in the hearts and minds of the citizenry.
And let’s be honest — most of us are now desensitized to news like this since it has become so commonplace.
But people died today when they least expected it. What a juxtaposition: the symbols and imagery of Christmas dashed by a dark force that sought to destroy and instill fear.
My brother lives in Germany. Two good friends took one of their mothers to the Christmas Markets last week. My wife’s family lives throughout Germany. These are not faceless people: I see them all swirling through my head right now. Evil is real in this world and while we can debate the nuance of geopolitics, I will not entertain an argument that seeks to even remotely justify the taking of life as was done yesterday.
Today will bring the inevitable flurry of emails in my office from clients wanting to cancel upcoming trips to Germany and I will begin the process of trying to calm anxiousness.
Here’s the bottom line: living in fear does not make the situation better. On the contrary, it makes it worse.
If you are thinking about cancelling a trip to Europe, I beg you to reconsider. Life is as fragile as the ornaments that were crushed by the speeding truck last night, but life is only worth living if we are willing to display our ornaments. This is what I mean: humans are designed to interact. When we hide ourselves behind the cloak of fear and prejudice, we live a shallow and pitiful life.
When U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry uttered the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death!” what did he really mean? Perhaps I can apply it to this situation: the beauty of the Berlin Christmas Market is magnified in light of what happened today.
If we succumb to fear, if this historic Christmas market is closed, we not only “let the terrorists win” but we rob ourselves of beauty and blessing. That makes us less human. That makes us more like the very people who attempt to manipulate us.