A video interview on french television of a father attempting to console and comfort his young son at a memorial to the victims of the attacks in Paris has gone viral. At one point, in response to the boy fearfully telling the reporter conducting the interview that bad guys with guns could shoot us, the father exclaims, “Yes, but we have flowers. Look, everyone is laying flowers. That’s the way to fight guns.” The young boy, not convinced initially in the slightest, replies, “But flowers don’t do anything.” The father however insists that the flowers and the candles used at the memorial are needed to fight evil and the video ends with the young boy seemingly in agreement with the notion that candles and flowers will protect him.
Many have extolled the video. Many have been moved by the little boy’s fear and the father’s attempt to relieve those fears. The wife and I watched the video one day last week and all we could do was shake our heads. One can understand a father attempting to overcome his son’s anxieties. What father wouldn’t in some way want to reassure his son? I simply wish he’d have done it more effectively and meaningfully.
Candles at a memorial are a beautiful way to remind those grieving that darkness is temporary and is defeated by light. Flowers can symbolize and give meaning to an idea that beauty saves. Both should in my view point mourners toward the God who defeats evil and death in the end. Though I can respect those who found the exchange between father and son to be moving and touching, I believe the message being sent given who it is that’s wreaking havoc in the world today to be misguided, even dangerous. Flowers and candles cannot protect us, not from this kind of evil.
Yesterday, thanks to Tom Zampino (who happens to blog regularly at Grace Pending on Patheos), I came across the following excerpted quote that I found relevant:
It is different now that a whole generation has been taught to think that there is no evil to resist, and no holiness to attain. The highest ambition of our new “therapeutic culture” is no loftier than the desire to “feel good” about oneself. We were solaced by politicians telling us that ISIS has been “contained” and is less dangerous than climate change. While Christians in the Middle East were being slaughtered in what the pope himself called genocide, although our own State Department refused to call it that, coddled and foul-mouthed students on our college campuses were indulging psychodramatic claims of hurt feelings and low self-esteem. They are not the stuff of which civilization’s heroes are made, and when the barbarians flood the gates, their teddy bears and balloons will be of little use.
Neither sadly will candles and flowers.
As Christians, we pray for peace, we plead for peace, we wish for peace, we do all we can for peace but we recognize that at times, we must fight for peace.
I see no other way to vanquish this enemy.
God grant wisdom to those leaders in alignment with your will and befuddle, confuse and bedevil those who are not.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.