A smile that conquers rage


Notes from a hotel room, on learning of the death of Rutger Hauer, who gave a memorable performance in the film Blade Runner …

What lesson did Roy Batty give us through the vessel of Rutger Hauer? Four years of life seems unfair – but how much life is a fair allotment?

Is it enough to know that life is finite, and therefore we should treat it as the precious gift it is? Apparently not, for so many are willing to advocate for removing the life prematurely from the fragile vessels that house it: Death to the infidels – crush the other – shoot those bastards – wipe the plague from the Earth.

This morning at breakfast I saw a couple who speak a language I don’t understand, but he smiled a smile at her that I recognize from the way I feel myself smile at my loved one, and I know they share a love not unlike mine. We humans share so much more than we don’t, and yet so many of us are so willing to foster hatred and anger toward the other.

Others casually condemn hatred in terms that drip with hatred themselves. They decry the general anger in words that in themselves seethe with unspoken rage. Social media becomes an antisocial killing field, unfriending a figurative slaying: “You have become an unperson in my eyes, and I no longer see you or care what you believe, because you have crossed over to the other side.”

Some will nod at my words and agree, not recognizing themselves. They sit and smile smugly at the ones whose hatred is more obvious and odious than theirs, their own rage bubbling just beneath the surface where they don’t see it. Their fear of the other is so deep they feel justified in their rage.

Should someone refuse to yield to the impulse to anger, they feel their friends’ wrath and are bullied until they are angry, and the cycle of rage is preserved and protected and justified.

From the seats of power to the mean streets, the rage cascades across the continents until we forget that we came in peace, we live most fully in peace, and one day we will rest in peace.

I understand anger and rage, for I have felt them. I understand frustration at not understanding or not being understood. But the Wisest of All implores us to love one another – live in peace – reach out a hand of understanding and not a fist of rage.

In the quiet pauses between raging breaths, may we find a promise of common ground and see at last that there is enough ground to shelter us all.