Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Waking up in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, I feel compelled to.... what really?... offer comfort, share insight, cling to others, question the world, ponder on life itself? Not really sure just yet, so I write.
One of my core values is compassion, a word whose origin means "to suffer with". So maybe that is what I am doing. And offering anything I have to anyone who might find these words, and need some connecting, commiserating, and communication too.
It is impossible to make sense of the senseless. So to try to understand this kind of action, or any tragedy really, is a futile activity and waste of mental power. I think it is important and natural to question how and why something like this happens; mostly because much of our peace will come from putting our energy into the things we can control. And by asking those questions, we can identify some of those things, and put our efforts into making a difference somewhere.
The thing that will not help? Blame.
There are going to be so many contributing factors to this tragedy. There will not be one answer. There never is. But blame is tricky because it really feels like pointing out something that can fix the situation. But it really is one more thing you have no control over, and the act of blame in itself fuels anger, bitterness, discord, and disconnection...all the feels that typically fuel acts of hate and violence to begin with.
So what now?
"Look for the good, and do not recede."
Look for the good, and do not recede.
I give credit for this profound and perfect statement to my new pastor, Jon Tellifero (more on him below). But the concept is a universally sound one, psychologically and spiritually.
Life is a constant see-saw of good and bad experiences, and we're all just trying to keep the balance with one leg on each side of the beam. So when something so awful happens to us or around us, we can find comfort for ourselves by looking for the good. Laws of order and balance are in existence. It's important for us to look for it. Good will show itself. Stories of heroism will be reported. Communities will cling and rally. People will support and comfort others. Love still exists and shows up. Look for it.
And keep going. Do not recede, in fear or frustration. If we recede, that see-saw hits the ground on one bad side with a force and thud that can knock the wind out of you. Find something that resonates in your heart to put your energy to, something you can control or influence. Maybe it is advocacy for a cause, even protest or lobbying. Fundraising, communicating, or prayer. Maybe it will be more intentional time with your own loved ones. It will be something you can actually do. You being able to make an actual difference, will make a difference in your heart and life, and the lives of others.
Life goes on. Find beauty in the balance. Only then will the pain not be in vain. Don't let it be in vain, folks.
Reverend Jon Tellifero came to pastor my church this July. In getting to know him, he has been very open about his life and journey, including the unimaginable suffering of losing his teenage daughter in a tragic accident a couple years ago. It was in the sharing of his story, where he made the statement above: "Look for the good and don't recede." I love having profound and brief life insights. This is one I will hold onto.
Please forgive any grammar, tense, person, errors in the writing. I wanted to get it out. Thanks.
(Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)