We saw inspiring acts of heroism in light of the tragedy that happened in Boston last Monday. In describing the nation’s response, the media has referenced MLK Jr’s quote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” People opened up their homes, restaurants fed stranded runners and the Red Cross turned people away because they had met their demands. It seemed as if people were indeed fighting darkness with light.
However, some of the sentiments that developed in reaction to the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left us feeling distressed. Comments like “they need to crucify him and whip him to death” or “they do not deserve to exist on earth” only produce and perpetuate the hatred that fueled the acts of terrorism in the first place. We feel safer knowing that this young man, who has terrorized many, has been apprehended; but to see the hateful messages written about him gives us pause.
Why are we fighting hate with hate?
We cannot stoop to his level by creating more evil. We do believe that he should face the repercussions of his actions; the justice system will hold him accountable. However, we will all have to face the consequences if we continue to react to violence with violence. We hold that wishing ill on a person is destructive even if he has committed horrible atrocities.
Our challenge is to resist the urge to fight hate with hate. Instead of spending energy expressing hatred, we should pray for the people of Boston, the first responders, the victims, their families and even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. When we refuse to accept any form of hate, even hate in response to hate, then and only then will we genuinely be fighting darkness with light.