Bombs exploded in Boston today. (More bombs were found and taken care of before they could go off, thankfully.) An eight-year-old boy was killed. When something like this happens, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, depression, and anger. It’s all too easy to forget about all the days when something like this doesn’t happen. And it’s tragically easy to fall into a cycle of responding to violence with more violence. Or violent rhetoric, at the very least.
But here’s what I think. The solution to events like this, and to patterns of violence and terror, is not more guns or more bombs. We need less talk of violence and revenge, less talk of killing to defend our loved ones, not more. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association recently said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And that’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Bullies need to be stood up to, but if you think you can stop violence with more violence–or even the threat of violence–you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If bravery means fighting with guns, knives, and bombs, than I’m proud to be a coward rather than a killer. If it’s naive to think we can defeat violence with nonviolence, than I’m happy to be naive.
What we need is more creativity, more compassion, more intelligence. It would be twee to suggest that we can solve all of the violence in the world with hugs and songs, and I certainly don’t believe that. But it’s bloody foolish to think you can solve violent problems with warfare. I’ll place my bets on tolerance, compassion, mercy, humor, and passive resistance. I’ll take my lessons from Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin. I truly do believe that there is more good, more love, more peace, more construction in humanity than there is evil, hatred, violence, destruction. As Patton Oswalt wrote today, “We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.”