Pain leads to anger and anger, in its turn, is the door to hatred. If you overstep this threshold, you never come back; you enter a loop of violence whose end will be reached only when all the protagonists are eliminated. Worse than this: you lose the ability to tell good from evil, the friend from the enemy, the righteous from the wicked; doing so will make the recepient of that destructive feeling no longer be only those who did you wrong but “anyone” who resembles the idea you have about the slayer, or does not understand our pain, or any other feeling our human mind will be able to give us as a passe-partout to do evil again.
The letter posted by Antoine Leiris on Facebook, a man who has seen his wife dying during the Paris attacks and will have to raise a 17-month-old baby boy on his own, is a life lesson. For everyone. First and foremost for the governments that launch offensives – although legitimate, from the point of view of international law – based on the emotional resonance in the aftermath of a tragedy. Running the risk of bombing everything and everyone, without making any distinction between helpless people and terrorists.
But also for those politicians who use the tragedy to enhance their chances at the elections, not contributing to the technical analysis of the events but merely fomenting hatred – precisely what Antoine shuns – vis-à-vis the “other”, whoever s/he is.
Finally, it is a lesson for the many keyboard Rambo, good at using the violence of the words behind the screens of their computers and ready to play the fundamentalists – with the same ferocity, albeit verbal – against all those who do not share their opinion, especially if the latter belong to a different ethnic group.
On the one hand there are those who have merely imagined pain, pulling out the worst of their instincts, that of revenge, those who put everyone into the same basket and argue using questionable interpretations of the sacred scriptures of different religions, who put forward historical analyses based on Wikipedia; on the other hand there are people in whose homes entered death, in whose souls entered pain, but who are not thirsty for more innocent blood.
“So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred”, says Antoine, not because he is a hero, but first of all because he is a father. And he is aware that it is not by fuelling fundamentalism with more fundamentalism that he will be able to hope for a better future for his son Melvil. This is a lesson we must learn by heart.