There were many courageous survivors from the concentration camps who were determined that hatred would not be the ultimate legacy. It requires special grace, too, to love vicariously from the sidelines as well as for those more directly implicated.
You will probably already have seen this response by Antoine Leiris, which was written in the immediate aftermath of his wife being killed in the massacre in Paris and sent out on Facebook. A friend wrote to us from France saying that she considered that it gives a much better idea of where people are spiritually than statistics on church attendance alone can provide.
“On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls.
If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in my wife’s body would have been a wound in His heart.
Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that that has made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You’ve lost. Same player, same game.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.
We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies. In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.