Those of us who watched the news this weekend were bombarded with images from Paris, where Friday terrorists launched an extremely deadly attack. One image, or video, that affected me deeply was the one below of a man playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” on a piano just a few meters away from the Bataclan theater, one of the scenes of the attack.
The song’s message of non-duality and universal compassion is, I believe, the right message, the right response, in the wake of this horrific incident. It matches the spirit of non-violence that permeates Buddhism. The spirit of ahimsa (“do no harm”) is summarized in the famous admonition attributed to the Buddha, that “with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings.”
Victor Hugo, the French Romantic author known for his poetry and his novels, including Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”), lived much of his life in the city of Paris. In 1882, he made a speech to the “Workingmen’s Congress.” You may say Hugo was a dreamer, but he, too, was not the only one . . .
Have faith, then; and let us realize our equality as citizens, our fraternity as men, our liberty in intellectual power. Let us love not only those who love us, but those who love us not. Let us learn to wish to benefit all men. Then everything will be changed; truth will reveal itself, the beautiful will arise, the supreme law will be fulfilled, and the world shall enter upon a perpetual fete day. I say, therefore, have faith.”
I don’t feel that the faith Hugo speaks of is a religious faith, but a faith in humanity, a belief that the goodness in human beings will win out over the evil, faith in the power of compassion and reason.
As requested by the Mayor of Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be lit in the colors of the French flag (red white blue) and the motto of the City “Fluctuat nec Mergitur” will be projected onto the deck of the 1st floor (Trocadero side) from night fall Monday November 16 to 1:00 am and for three days (until Wednesday, November 18 included).