I am not sure where I read about Antoine Leiris but his words “You will not have my hatred,” found a way into my heart and buried themselves deep.
“You will not have my hatred,” says Antoine Leiris in a FB post that addressed Islamic State terrorists behind the deadly strike in which 129 people were killed. On Friday November 13, 2015, Islamic State terrorists struck at multiple targets in Paris including the Bataclan theatre, the Stade de France football stadium and a pizzeria, gunning down people. Over 89 concert-goers were killed at the Bataclan theatre in the worst of the attacks. Mr Leiris’ wife was among them.
“Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you’re dead souls.
No I won’t make you this gift of hating you. You have it coming, but to respond to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to look at my fellow citizens suspiciously, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose. The player still plays.
I saw her this morning. At last, after nights and days of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love with her more than 12 years ago. Of course I’m devastated with grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will be with us every day and that we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have.
My son and I, we will be stronger than all the armies in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back (to my son) who has woken from his sleep. He is 17 months old, he’ll eat his snack like any other day, then we will play like every other day and all his life this little boy will dare to be happy and free. Because No, you won’t have his hatred either.”
Let’s be honest, most of human kind will not experience an attack like this. You and I, in our regular lives will not find ourselves being the unlucky recipient of such terroristic acts against humanity. We most likely won’t find ourselves in theatre’s, football stadium’s or pizzerias. We most likely won’t find ourselves in high-rise buildings or airplanes. We may not even find ourselves in schools, churches or outdoor concert venues where mass shootings occur. Whatever our life, Whoever we are; White, Black, Christian, Muslim, Straight, Gay, Upper Class, Lower Class, Democrat or Republican…we may never be placed in a situation where we later write, “You will not have my hatred.”
Or will we?
Let’s take this down to our level, in fact, let me bring this down to mine.
I am a White, Middle-Class Soccer Mom.
I’m a Christian.
I have no clue which political party I identify with.
I have a college degree. A full-time job. Married with kids.
I vacation every summer. Eat out when I want to. Attend Church when I can.
I have never been denied a job based off the fact that I am a White Female though I have been the recipient of the occasional cat call or random solicitation for “friendships” on FB from male strangers who think I am nothing but “pretty.”
I have never been laughed at our made fun of and have absolutely never been a target of a hate crime based off the fact that I am any and all of the above.
I know no real persecution, except that which lies within me, and for the most part, have a cushy life.
And yet I sit at times and fester.
I give them my hatred.
Things have been stolen from me.
I have been suspicious and have sought refuge in feeling safe.
I have grieved.
I have done all these things and more and day after day, my hatred seethes and disguises itself…even from myself.
Because I know that hatred starts small. It starts with one moment and then builds to two and then five…five hundred small and inconspicuous moments where fear takes a hold and plants a root.
Hurt can become an offense.
Enough offenses and you give way for hatred, even towards ones self, to reign and rule.
Can we take gut-wrenching events, like the one that happened on November 13, 2015, and make something large-scale small?
We have to.
I want to.
I cannot afford to allow my wounds to fester because loving large-scale means I need to love small-scale FIRST. With me. With you. If I miss it here, with the person staring back at me in the mirror or the one standing before me, I’ll miss it there.
And I simply do not want to miss a oppotunity to forgive, an opportunity to love where I know it can have the greatest impact.
“You will not have my hatred.”
These are the words of Antoine Leiris. They are mine.
Will they be yours?