On Thursday, August 17, 2017, a delivery van zig-zagged through Las Ramblas, Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring 100 others.
This news came right after the violent hate attacks in Charlottesville, where a man ran his car into a crowd of protesters killing one young woman.
My heart hurts; I can’t hold my tears. I found myself shaking in confusion and despair, sitting on the floor of my Brooklyn apartment when my little two-year-old approaches me, holds up my face and asks, “Mami, okay?” It’s almost time for bed; I hug him with all the love I’ve ever felt. “I’m okay, my love, let’s get you to bed.”
He is exhausted and it doesn’t take long before he falls into a deep and peaceful sleep. While I watch him, my mind goes back to the recent events. Fear crawls back into my body, so I do the best thing I know to fight fear—I write. I write a letter to my little boy.
My dear child,
The world is a scary place.
There are a lot of people with heart and soul injuries who want to hurt others.
Some traditions and misguided faiths have made people pick up different kinds of weapons and fight one another because they believe their God is better, their color is better, their country is better, or their way is better.
It is not something new to humanity, and sadly, it will not end.
You will see it in your time; my soul rips open to the thought of you feeling heartbroken with news of mass killings and hate crimes, because a day will come when you will also weep for people you’ve never met before but that you know did not deserve to be the victims of ill and sad humans who decided to terrorize others.
You too will have sleepless nights, worried about what future awaits, while your beautiful child sleeps peacefully unaware of what troubles the planet Earth today.
I would love to fix everything for you, I would love to make things better and offer you a world of peace—free of pain and pollution—where people respect each other in spite of their differences and traditions. Where animals are not endangered and disappearing because humans think they are entitled to other species’ lives.
The truth is—I can’t.
No one can.
You won’t be able to do it either.
But I want you to know this: they will never win.
Love is stronger. And we are many more.
Evil will always be noisier, but the soft song of love will last longer.
We are the ones who care. The ones who are kind and respectful.
We are the ones who will stand up for those in need. The ones who will open our hearts and our homes. The ones who will defend freedom.
We are more. We chant and hold hands.
We pray in different languages, to different gods, or to no God at all. Because we don’t need to have a God to pray.
We hug and have respectful conversations, even when we disagree on our points of view.
We are not afraid.
It hurts to see the violence.
We cry because it hurts.
But we are strong and will stand for justice. We will stand for peace. We will stand for love.
This is our story, the story of humankind. It’s not always a good story, but please, my dear child, know this: we have always won, and as long as we keep loving, we will keep winning.
So do not be afraid.
When it comes time that you realize what is happening: cry, mourn, pray. And then wipe your face and get up again.
Our fight is not with weapons, our fight is with kind words and actions. These have always been more powerful and long-lasting than any weapon invented.
Fight ignorance; study hard.
Practice kindness; open your arms.
And always, always, choose love.
Author: Montse Leon
Image: Author’s own, U.S. Embassy Pakistan/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social editor: Yoli Ramazzina