I posted this last year, and depressingly, the year before that. And I’m posting again because it’s still relevant. I wasn’t planning on this today, but then the mass shooting in my beloved El Paso happened. And I felt compelled to share what I’ve shared after 2 other terrible and too eerily similar events.
Who is our neighbor? Anyone who needs our help. Anyone God made. That’s all of us. Let us love one another as we are loved by our eternal God. You are special. Each of us is, and deserving of love and care.
Here it is again…
Where is hope? Where is love? Where is mercy and compassion? Or empathy, not just on the part of the perpetrator, but on the part of the others who never helped, never listened, or encouraged, or defended throughout his life? A wounded and neglected child becomes a wounded and potentially dangerous adult.
We are the ones who must assist that victim so that he will not make victims of others. I understand the helplessness and frustration of people with the recurring and horrible mass murder scenario. But to have the obvious reaction of blaming gun laws or lack thereof, fails to address the more pressing, very real problem in our world today.
When we treat one another with a complete lack of understanding and respect, when we disregard the dignity of our neighbor – deserved because he or she is another human being who is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” made in the image and likeness of God – we become more likely to produce a shooter like the ones who kill and injure so many in any of the nightmare scenarios we’ve witnessed in our society lately.
One sick person, sick in soul and heart and mind, causes such huge devastation for others who have never personally ever caused the shooter any harm at all.
If we don’t start talking – not just about God and our place in His world – but to Him, about our cares and concerns, we will never get beyond these types of terrible incidents. Those among us who know why we’re here, on this earth, and can and do act with mercy and compassion, with patience, and love of neighbor, need to start a conversation with those who don’t.
And we need to be there for parents who are at a loss when their children become violent and scare even them. Too many parents need help with troubled youth and don’t know where to turn or how to help. Too many scared little kids with lousy home lives and social lives don’t have anyone to understand and help them. And their fear turns into defensiveness and their frustration turns into aggression. Those who have been hurt and or abandoned want to hurt others.
A home, that ought to be a child’s safe haven from the storms of life, is just another place to be a non-entity, an unloved, misunderstood, neglected or abandoned soul, in too many instances. Families have a huge responsibility in ensuring their children know that their lives matter. If a home is not one of unconditional love where parents or a parent have each child’s best interests at heart and the child knows this because there is love in the family, it cannot truly be considered a home.
Or maybe it’s a neighbor, co-worker, or someone we just know socially who we perceive is troubled, angry, maybe a little irrational even. I know our first impulse is to walk away or avoid someone like that. But maybe we’re supposed to reach out in love and with compassion for that troubled soul. We don’t necessarily have the answers or the capability to help alleviate a person’s suffering ourselves. But we can lead them to someone who can. Maybe it’s worth a try. Or maybe I’m just the somebody today who smiles at him or her, says hello, does not ignore another human being I see on a regular basis.
Encouraging words and concrete actions that demonstrate this love are crucial. And, I would argue as a person of faith, that we are the reflection of the love of God. And helping each child of God to know about that eternal Love is also critical for our society to truly thrive.
That’s the conversation I want us to have. It is one that is completely devoid of political motives. It is one of unity and not of division. It is one of a shared concern for our neighbor whom we should love as ourselves. Our reaction to another mass shooting event should be one of a common concern for our brothers and sisters. I don’t want our politicians to ‘solve’ this problem. I want our citizens to speak in civil, loving tones about how we can help one another with our shared goal of a society that includes all, respects all, works together for the good of all.
And all of that will happen when each of us knows we are loved by our Creator, and that He is with us through each trial and each joy in life. Those of us who know this have got to do a better job of sharing that good news with those who don’t. I’m going to try. Who’s with me?