I’ve been feeling a little ill lately. Not physically, really, just sick at heart. Maybe you have, too. The world around just seems to be…off. Bombings, beheadings, siege and subjugation–it’s been relentless. I have to brace myself to watch the nightly news.
It’s like we’re experiencing a rising tide of…I was going to say anger and cruelty, but I’m going to temper it down and say “ill will.” It’s a sickness, a malady, and I’m not sure how to turn it around, but I may have a good place to start. Naïve little me, I always hold out for the possibility that misguided people just aren’t seeing things clearly, that if someone would show them a better path, they would take it. I’m warning you, my plan is a bit harsh, but I’m feeling desperate right now.
Whenever someone gets the idea to fire a rocket, to leave a backpack full of explosives under a bleacher, to run off and commit genocide with a group of far-flung rebels despite the fact that they don’t even embrace their ideology (details), I say we stage an intervention. I would round up the lot of them and put them in the backseat of my car, then drive them to a cancer clinic. Really. I’d sit them down in the waiting area next to a patient who has a chemo port implanted in her chest. She’s 25, 30. Two small kids at home. She’s lost her hair but not her voice, and she smiles as we sit down. I’d send our would-be terrorists back with our friend to the treatment room where she curls up under a blanket made by one of her church friends and lets the toxic, sickening chemicals drip, drip, drip into her for five hours. She hopes they work. Life is important to her.
Then I’d send our hopefully shaken terrorist back to the waiting room where all the other people are hoping, too, not just patients, but the people who sit with them, the friends and family members that drove them there, the ones who’ve been making meals and lighting candles and crying in the bathroom so they don’t upset their patient friend. Life is important to them, too.
I’d take the terrorists beyond the cancer center, where there are prayer chains, fervent hopes and wishes, all aiming at the same thing: that the patients will survive to enjoy birthdays and Christmases and ballgames and dance recitals with the people they love. That life will go on.
If the ill will is still not eradicated, I’d drive the group to a rehab center, where people are struggling through pain to recover, to a memory care unit where sons and daughters are spoon-feeding the parents who no longer remember their names. I know, it seems like a heavy-handed approach, but we’re facing serious problems, serious times and something has to turn all that around.
I have to believe that if the terrorists could see what people go through to hang onto life, they wouldn’t be so casual about ending it. If they could spend time with these families, there would be no gut-wrenching YouTube videos, no sneering victory dances with guns upraised.
Here’s my underlying message: It has to stop – the fear, the anger, the cowardice, the cruelty. We’re all in this together. We always have been. Every day is a gift, for every single person.
Look into your heart, my misguided friends. Please.
Don’t make me take you to Children’s Hospital.
Because I will.