This isn’t an entry about gun control or our country’s leadership. This is a post about us.
For it is to us human beings that this tragedy has befallen, all of us. It directly affects those injured and the families of those slain, yet we are interconnected regardless of how distant some wish us to be. Spirits who long for discord and chaos revel in the catastrophe in Parkland, Florida, also delighting in the sorrow of every other mass killing, be it with weapons or war or any other form of violence. The threat of bodily harm stirs urges toward self-defense, the sensation of fear increases the adrenaline. Yet, of whom (or who) are we terrified?
Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews, the Hutu government slaughtered upwards of one million fellow Tutsi Rwandans, Jim Jones led nearly a thousand followers to take their lives in the Guyana jungle. Fear and hatred brought together form a powerful sword and we wave that blade even at the most innocuous moments; on the freeway when a driver cuts us off, at the suspicious looking stranger pushing an overfilled shopping cart, within our hearts due to this wrong perpetrated or that perceived slight. Spirits who stir our animosity become they, and we wish to further ourselves from them. The further we step away, the poorer become our souls, because they are us.
We are not a planet populated with alternate beings, we are all humans, imperfect and aching. Love is what binds our wounds, but love, compassion, kindness, and understanding are being squeezed out of the equation, for it is so much easier to condemn, then turn away from, what seems loveless. When we look upon our neighbor with fear, how simple is it to ratchet that to loathing, then reach for our sword, striking down that enemy. This is exactly the position we must resist, gathering all our courage to instead embrace what is frightening, what seems insurmountable. We must step toward another, leaving our weapons of destruction behind us.
Those weapons aren’t merely guns; they are thoughts and words steeped in fear, heightened by callousness. Our hearts turn cold, our tolerance wanes. Apathy becomes hostility, and they turn into a group less than human, deserving no pity. Today I pray for those in Parkland, but I also pray for myself to love more, be less afraid, and to embrace despite differences. Only in these manners can peace and healing truly be achieved.