There’s a book I want to write about a grandmother who saves the world by growing roses. It seems like a ridiculous premise, right? What’s interesting about that? Where’s the conflict, the tension, the struggle, the triumph?
But, see, I think sometimes we focus too much on the conflict and triumph. We focus too much on escalation.
Today another disturbed person lashed out and took innocent lives. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they did so in an environment of escalating tension and rhetoric. That they did so during a time when people are being encouraged to take sides, to protect what’s “ours”, to see those who aren’t like us as a dangerous other.
It’s so tempting in times like this to lash out. To take the hurt that others cause us and spread that hurt. To receive hate and return hate. They hurt us, let us now hurt them. An eye for an eye, right?
It’s so much more difficult to take hate and turn it into something beautiful. To take the negative energy of others and instead of spreading that negative energy with our reactions or our words, to instead transform that negative energy. To use that awful momentum from an act of evil and somehow use it to produce a thing of beauty.
Because we each have a choice. To spread darkness or light. To push others down or lift others up. We have a choice to take what comes at us and spread it onward or transform it.
I haven’t written that novel yet, because I’m not sure how to write it. And I’m not sure anyone wants to read it. Think how boring or how frustrating it would be to see someone’s world attacked or destroyed and to see them take that pain and heartache and instead of fighting back to dig in the soil, plant the seed, water the soil, pull the weeds, and grow something of beauty in the midst of loss. To see them not fight back, not take an eye for an eye, but instead just…grow a rose.
I’m not sure I could do it if it were me. I’m not sure most of us could. I’m not even sure most of us should. What would that mean. Would you have to let evil run unchecked? What happens to hatred when it’s met with silence? Does it grow? Does it become more powerful? Maybe it withers. And dies. Maybe it tries harder for a time and then dies without fuel to keep it going.
I don’t know.
But I do wonder what the world would look like if each of us took the ugliness we experience and found a way to stop it instead of spreading it. If each of us found a way to transform this pain and loss into something beautiful or productive.
I suspect the world might be better for it. But I’m not sure I can do it…I’m not sure any of us can.