Today we grieve, as we have done so many times in the past and only hope we don’t have to encounter again in future. Today we mourn loss, we beg for answers, we cry from the depths of our hearts in the face of tragedy. We hold our babies and hug our friends and kneel to pray.
In the moment after our initial reaction to senseless violence there is a vital step we take. Two paths wait there for us as individuals and as a community.
Down one path we react. We allow anger and fear to rise above all other voices and we choose to hole ourselves up in our homes, away from the world, disconnected from our neighbors and we call it safety. In reaction we ask for more guns, more security, more decisions made in fear and scarcity of hope. We decide on this path that the world is spiraling out of control and there is nothing we can do about it except keep ourselves and our own protected at the sacrifice of the whole.
Down the other path we respond. We take the depth of tragedy and gaze simultaneously inward and outward. We check our own hearts, judgments and assumptions and we choose to open our eyes to the brokenness and need in our own communities. We accept our role as a neighbor and believe that love can truly overcome.
Down the path of response we make active decisions of peace. We make decisions of reconciliation in the light of a family’s brokenness violently entering the scene of our consciousness. We make decisions of support for people that are hurting, continue to hurt and so often feel alone. We choose the miracle of standing beside a person for another day instead of giving up – so often an easier and more convenient path. We actively choose a lifestyle of committed love.
I have been making notes and shoving scratch paper with Sharpie scribbles into my pockets as I process my own response to today and it all comes down to one thing: That I believe the answer is to live great acts of love and commitment.
If we become less safe, less hesitant in the way we love people,
we can be more safe in our communities.
Of all the times in the world, now is the time to engage deeply, to draw from the strength and courage of our lives and reach out to others. Does this not make a community? Neighbors helping and voicing support, people giving and attending to needs, brokenness brought to light so healing and revival can come?
Hug your family. Kiss your spouse. Cry in their arms. Remember your neighbor. Attend to your own brokenness. Show love to strangers. Choose to smile at someone instead of ignore them. Open your heart and fear not. Have peace. Make peace.
Quoted from a friend, “Violence begets violence and hate begets hate. But Love begets love and peace begets peace. The seeds we sow in our own lives, in our politics, in our faith and in our community create the world in which we live. Change in the world is at our very own fingertips.”