The atrocious events in Paris on the weekend are an affront to any person or society that values freedom.
It’s important that we don’t unwittingly allow the damage from those senseless attacks to spread even further. The perpetrators have attacked the Parisians’ freedom on many levels, but let’s not allow them to take ours.
The collective outpouring of shock, anger, fear and even hatred is compelling. It’s easy to join in and easy to justify. But if we lose our heads, if we give way to hatred and react to the buttons they’re trying so desperately to press we play into their hands. We lose our freedom to rise above the fight or flight impulse and respond as mature, mindful, reasonable beings.
In this context, I’d like to share the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It contains some wise advice and if you have the time I encourage you to read it.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.