It was a conversation that made me want to crawl under a table and hide, and never come out again.

It took place at a meeting I attended last weekend, when everyone was still in shock over the attacks that took place in Paris last Friday. Before the meeting started, several of us were discussing the attacks, each of us contributing additional information and details we had read in the paper or heard on the news.

From there our discussion broadened into the subject of terrorism around the world. Cyber-attacks came into the mix, as we talked and speculated about hackers and the type and extent of damage they could do. I mentioned a television show I watch that focuses on cybercrimes. I am both fascinated and terrified by examples of what can be done by someone with evil intentions and extensive knowledge of technology. Someone else at the table then mentioned a show that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the government’s role in dealing with crises around the world. The story lines are fictional, but they’re current and realistic nonetheless.

Right about then is when I started to feel like hiding under a table. Fortunately, it’s also when the actual meeting started.

The meeting was a monthly gathering that encourages, promotes, and celebrates living our faith. It’s supportive and upbeat, and included stories and reports from and about people who are doing positive and inspiring work, with amazing results and outcomes.

I learned about a teacher who is motivating children in a way that is gentle, loving, and very powerful. I learned about people who are bringing messages of hope and faith to people in prisons, and about the drastic reduction in recidivism – the percentage of people who land back in prison for other offenses – of prisoners who have gone through the program. And I learned about other people who were making differences large and small in the lives of others.

Not only did I no longer want to hide under the table, I wanted to stand on top of it and cheer.

Yes, there are people in the world who are violent and evil, and seem to have no other purpose in their lives than to do harm to others, whether it’s with a gun, a bomb, or a computer, and whether they are acting alone, with a small group, or with a coordinated army of hatemongers.

There are also people who are quietly doing what they can to make the world a better place. They work with children in school, or with criminals serving time in prison. They help people find shelter, and they provide meals and comfort to those in need. They listen when people need to talk, and they reach out when someone has fallen and needs a hand getting back up.

I left the meeting feel peaceful yet empowered. The events of last Friday were still on my mind, but I no longer felt terrorized or paralyzed by them. Instead I felt inspired and energized, and grateful for the opportunity to be reminded of the best we are capable of, instead of the worst. It made all the difference in the world.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on November 19, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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