In the wake of the shock of Paris, I had allowed myself to adopt and believe what I now realize is a lie I've been telling myself - that this is the best we, the world, which includes me personally, can do, and there is no way it can or will ever get better.
Whenever I have time off, I enjoy visiting museums and historic houses with my daughter. It is something that we both share a love for as we both enjoy learning new things and history.
One by one and all together we must learn and practice the ways of peace, cooperation, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. We must put our spirit into action and be the change we seek -- in our hearts, in our homes, in our relationships and in our communities.
Perhaps the reason these attacks strike such fear and despair into our hearts is because they threaten to confirm our deeper fears: that we're not one, that we're not together, that we are alone in a harsh world. Let's not give that fear a chance to take root and grow.
We can passively agree to be part of that energy of fear -- it is natural to match the energy around us -- or we can intentionally stand for the best within ourselves. I am moved by this video of a father and son trying to make sense of it all.
Compassion allows us to express unlimited empathy for the victims and their loved ones and also permits us to free their spirits from being executed again by hatred and cruelty. We need to ask ourselves what series of events over the course of time led to this terrible situation.
At 16, when I left the Jehovah's Witness religion, I made a scrapbook full of things I wanted to celebrate and do when I was an adult and had my own life. Cut and pasted magazine clippings for holiday parties and pink frosted birthday cakes were plastered on every page.
Only by asking simple but new and honest questions can we begin to challenge the status quo in this troubled land.
How do we speak of peace this week after the series of brutal attacks witnessed in Lebanon, Egypt, France, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine - not to mention the daily bloodshed in Syria? In the face of these atrocities, an immediate definition comes to mind: peace is more than the absence of war.
Whereas Israel enjoys a preponderance of military and economic power and negotiates from a position of strength, the Palestinians are living under occupation with a limited ability to challenge Israel.
Here's the real truth about getting what you want out of life: YOU are given permission to have everything we want by the simple, profound fact that you are here. Our existence is all the justification we need.
Terrorists are not born: they are created, fueled and radicalized, they are taught to hate and kill in cold blood. We need to disarm the process of radicalization, to undo the mechanisms of influence that can place young people on the path to violent extremism. We must teach peace.
You know, you're young, and yet in your lifetime, you've known, most of your lifetime, a post-9/11 world. You are not the first generation to know violence in your time. You, I'm afraid, will not be the last.
These days, as there's literally and figuratively a dark cloud over Paris, I've done a lot to remind myself that peace isn't some distant state of world being. It's actually something that we can have now, if only we all decided.
Paris. The way we think of that beautiful city has changed. That's what they want. They want us to think about things differently, to use Paris as a symbol of bloodshed and fear, not the one we know and love of liberty and culture.
Almost every day someone will ask me why I bother "wasting" my life on a "hopeless" issue. "Those people [Israelis and Palestinians] have been fighting for thousands of years and they'll be fighting until the end of days," the exchange begins. The question always irks me.