Un­der­stand­ing the ca­pac­ity for do­ing what’s good

The Covington News - - OBITUARIES - REV. LYN PACE COLUM­NIST Rev. Lyn Pace is the col­lege chap­lain at Ox­ford Col­lege of Emory Univer­sity.

Last week I went to a good­bye party for a work col­league and just as I was about to put the de­lec­ta­ble bite of cheese­cake into my mouth an­other col­league sat down and asked, “Do you think there’s more or less vi­o­lence to­day than ever be­fore?” I ate the bite of cheese­cake as I took in his com­ment.

What with all the vi­o­lence we ex­pe­ri­enced in the world in the last two weeks alone, he and an­other col­league had been talk­ing about this on their way to the vigil we held for two of our Ox­ford Col­lege stu­dents killed in a vi­o­lent at­tack in Dhaka, Bangladesh a cou­ple of weeks ago. They went back and forth dis­cussing some of the usual ar­gu­ments.

I guess there’s been vi­o­lence in the world for as long as we’ve had a world. Is it worse now than it was at the be­gin­ning of time or in the Mid­dle Ages dur­ing the Cru­sades or the Amer­i­can Civil War or in 20th cen­tury when six mil­lion Jews were killed dur­ing the Holo­caust? Well, I’m just not sure.

An­other col­league was sit­ting there lis­ten­ing to us when she chimed in with a few thoughts. She told us about a friend of hers who’s ex­pect­ing a baby. The friend shared how she and her part­ner had been won­der­ing if they did the right thing by bring­ing a child into this world.

I had some thoughts like that too when we were ex­pect­ing our son in 2012. Of course, now, I have no idea what I would do with­out him. But I get it. I even sus­pect my now-de­ceased pa­ter­nal grand­mother had those thoughts in 1942 with a World War and the Holo­caust swirling against the back­drop of her ex­pect­ing a son. I would al­most bet she won­dered if it was the right thing to do.

An­other col­league, a grad­u­ate school in­tern was sit­ting there too. She was by far the youngest at the ta­ble, but she stayed quiet. I won- dered what she was think­ing about our con­ver­sa­tion and re­ally wanted her to speak up. But, I let the mo­ment pass by with­out en­cour­ag­ing her, and I haven’t fol­lowed up. I won­der what she thinks about this par­tic­u­lar mo­ment es­pe­cially since she’s lived most of her life in a post-9/11 world.

I don’t re­ally know if there’s more or less vi­o­lence now. But maybe that’s not the most rel­e­vant ques­tion or point. Maybe we need to talk about the ca­pac­ity for good in­stead.

Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hos­sain, the two Ox­ford Col­lege stu­dents re­cently killed are ex­am­ples of the ca­pac­ity for do­ing what’s good in the world. Abinta would have been a sopho­more this year at the col­lege, and she was known for cre­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on our cam­pus that were meant to in­clude all peo­ple. She was one who brought peo­ple to­gether to strengthen the com­mu­nity.

Faraaz Hos­sain was also ac­tive in this way on cam­pus. But his ca­pac­ity to do a good thing showed up in a tremen­dous way in the at­tack at the café in Dhaka. In­stead of leav­ing his two friends be­hind, he stayed with them and in the end lost his life.

I sus­pect there are many rea­sons he stayed be­hind that night. What I do know is that he cre­ated a story counter to the story that the ter­ror­ists wanted us to know. He cre­ated a story about the ca­pac­ity for do­ing what’s good. And that’s the story we need to hear more about in this world. We need peo­ple who do good things, and we need a me­dia that cov­ers that story and high­lights that story more than the story about the at­tack.

We all have the ca­pac­ity to do what’s good in the world, but we have to make the choice to do it. Twenty year old Faraaz Hos­sain has set the bar for me. His life is now an ex­am­ple of what it means to be a true friend, of what it means to do what’s good in the world.

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