Like everybody else, I hear the names of places that get attacked by hatred; the Twin Towers, Oklahoma City, Norway, Paris, Istanbul, Miami, Baghdad, Brusells, San Bernadino, Kabul, Jerusalem, Dublin, Ankara, Moscow, Thailand, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, London – places we have never heard of and/or places we love dearly.

And now Nice…. Un quatorze juillet.

This year, I have personally been so emotionally affected by the places that mean something extra special to me, but there are people in places I cannot even place on the map who are crying and feeling hopeless and helpless just like me right now.

The rational me can fully understand anger, jealousy, fear of the unknown, social injustice, desperation, lack of education, lack of communication.  The caveman (and of course I include the cavewoman) has evolved so very little in spite of their gadgets, but I had hoped that history would have taught us that war, brutality and hatred have never solved a conflict or embellished our world.

Neither has passivity.  Not reading the news because it will ruin my day will probably make me feel a bit less pain, and so I have gained 10 minutes of living in a bubble.  My world will still be as ugly as before when I open my eyes again.

I am a Buddhist and I do not say that proudly, as if that would somehow make me a better person.  Nor am I “die-hard-Buddhist” who feels the need to observe rituals that make no sense to me.  If a two-year old were to ask me what it is to be a Buddhist to me, I think my answer would be “I want to create ripples”.  It is the only thing that is in my power and the only thing with which I can affect the world.  My ripples would be love, a smile, a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, absence of violence, an open heart to listen to the person on the other side of the room.  We all have that power regardless of our background or religion.  To choose a positive or a negative ripple to send through the Universe.  Not just on Christmas, Ramadan, Chinese New Year, but every day, every moment.   So when I hear that people say that  there is nothing we can do, forgive me for stating that you are wrong and just start sending out a little baby ripple in your own backyard and see where it takes you.  I guarantee no overnight miracles, but have to believe in positive ripples over retaliation or my life has no purpose.  And as far as I am concerned, we only have this life, this planet and each other, so let’s cherish it all with respect – and together.

There you have it.  No photo to become the next Ansel Adams, no brilliant philosophy.  Just my two cents in an ugly world, but that still makes me hope that Louis Armstrong was right.  Namaste.