I thought about not writing this — about giving it more time, having our holiday and simply honoring the now-resting and their broken families in silent prayers and tear-filled gazes upon my babies. Tragedy such as Friday’s is hardly touched by mere words; even less is the suffering left in its wake.
But while my heart remains heavy and selfishly prefers to put it off, my conscience won’t allow me the luxury. Much like digging bodies from a mud-slicked mountain or scouting for survivors amidst the rubble of ruins, there is crucial work to be done in the moments following disaster that is best undertaken by those of us whose hearts — though aching — are still in one piece. In this case, the work is not so much physical as internal, though it is no less important in the healing process of a shaken nation, the honoring of the families intimately affected and the assurance that we now move forward with intention and clarity.
Everywhere I turn, there is talk of gun control and of mental health and of the disfunction inherent to each as systems and institutions. I hear automatic weapon sales are on the rise. I’ve read impassioned pleas from mothers raising children they fear are capable of acts similar to Adam’s, yet whose choices for treating their babies range from nonexistent to ineffective to cruelly unjust.
There are those who angrily blame NRA lobbyists for Friday’s nightmare. Meanwhile, terrified parents propose armed gunmen in elementary schools nationwide. Some conservative faith communities even suggest that we have called such a fate down upon ourselves by stirring a vindictive god who is merely expressing his love with a ruler-to-the-wrist reminder that He belongs in schools.
I’ve got my own opinions about each of these subjects, but they hardly matter right now. Personal agendas and heated opinions border on dangerous this early in the aftermath. Kneejerk reactions are the stuff of wars — at best serving to divide us — and hardly ever make for sound policy reform.
What then? What are we to do, as even the most cynical among us seem to stand in solidarity, stating in no uncertain terms that something must be done.
I agree wholeheartedly. Our healthcare system is in need of a total overhaul, the desensitization towards violence among our youth is not helping anything and the fact that the sale of guns is less regulated than say, bread baked in your kitchen speaks of a nation suffering from mislead and confused prioritization.
But my intuition tells me that before we take one more step down the road to reform and recovery, we must each ask ourselves this simple question:
Do I choose to root my reactions in love or in fear?
Fear gives rise to panic, rage, anger, resentment, hatred, worry, cynicism, judgement, and selfishness.
Love births kindness, generosity, peace, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, empathy, understanding, and healing.
Both provide fuel for action, each begets more of the same, and no one gets to make the choice for you.
It’s easier said than done, of course — choosing the latter under any circumstance, much less the mass murder of young children and their teachers. For those of you understandably struggling with any number of fear’s manifestations and needing a nudge back to your truer self, I’ve created a small list of places to focus your attention while you tend the rawest of your wounds, asess your fears and eventually embody the capacity to react based on love and with thoughtful intention.
(Oh, and if you are raging, feel free not to act. You will be contributing more good than you know by choosing first to do no harm.)
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy
I can’t tell you how much this helped me today. Thank you for posting, for considering, for reaching out to help the hearts that are hurting. Sending LOVE to ALL our brothers and sisters. High-fives to you.
As a Canadian high school teacher my own cultural baggage has me watching and feeling the events quite differently from many of our American counterparts. Nonetheless, we are all shocked and seeking a way to move forward. I love your simple, concise ideas. Thank you for reminding me I can do my part and although it is small, it does magnify.
Sending you joy and love!
Thank you for your words. Their practical application is helpful to me.
I am so glad you chose to write this. Your words are both beautiful and true. Thank you.
Thank you for the reminder to spread light wherever we can. You are certainly doing so just by writing.
This puts together everything I have been feeling this week. Thank you so much for this!
Pointing fingers is not the answer. I truly believe that we each must be willing to look deep within ourselves and be willing to face our angers and fears. Doing so will help us to heal as a nation and most importantly, as a race. Facing these big, and sometimes scary feelings will turn them to wisdom and compassion. What a gift to give our children, don’t you think?
Profound: There are those who cry and those who make soup for those who cry.
“Perfect love drives out fear.”
Great thoughts, Beth. Thank you for your thoughtfulness…that comes from down deep.
beth, you ARE Love manifested.
well-put, as always…
hoping i reflect the Love i feel when reading your words, back to others and sending some back to you, alycia
in continuing to reflect on all this this morning, i feel we ALL actually are Love manifested. (“We are stardust, we are golden…”). all of us carry the power to create or destroy. your words, especially on this topic, share your Love and Light and deep thoughtfulness with others and have the power to help others hopefully embrace their own Light and keep their heart from darkness and fear. you have the power to help remind people what they are truly of, when they forget while in the clutches of fear, and this is something the world needs so much of right now, more than ever. i wish even more people could hear your thoughts and words. too bad you can’t be Obama’s speech writer…it would be cool for this to be shared on a global level right now…
Thx. It is good to know there are other people turning to love in the aftermath of this tragedy. We all like to argue our opinion, but when it comes down to it, the more we choose to express love, the better this planet will be.