I have mostly devoted myself to discussions of healthy, happy living on this blog. If I have strayed at times, it was to demonstrate the fullness of life for me now that I am healthy and fit. How the world, with all its amazing color and noise and movement has simply flowed into me and filled me.
But. Health and wellbeing cannot exist in a vacuum. I have a hopeful heart, and it is wrong to protect that heart by blocking out what is evil and dark. Acknowledging that evil and darkness exist is the only way to stand against them. To speak up and stand tall and not show fear.
There are twenty-nine souls who are now lost to us for no other reason than anger and hatred. Hatred is the worst kind of cancer; it devours individuals who were once loved by God. It spreads through manifestos and plots and guns and all the hate-filled vitriol available at the click of a mouse. It is destroying us as surely as our deep polarization is making the foundation of our democracy start to crumble.
I believe in the power of God. I also believe in the power of people. Indeed, my faith is centered less on the “miraculous” than on the concept that we are God’s Hands and Feet and Heart and Mind in the world. Yes, I pray, and I sure wouldn’t mind a miracle or two. But, I also believe we have a responsibility to one another, to our community, to the life with which we have been graced.
My mother grew up in Dayton. She grew up in what was then a small city with the National Cash Register Company as its manufacturing engine. Their house was the only one on the street when she was small. Since she had no siblings, I suspect she was lonely, but found her imagination and her adventures in the fields just outside. She was very sheltered, and the Dayton of her memory shone brightly.
How violated the heart of that city is now. How violated is El Paso. How violated is every single one of us who doesn’t understand the grinding, all-consuming emotion that led to slaughter.
We cannot be so violated, wring our hands, and then do nothing. We cannot decry these acts and then accept them as part of a new and terrible normal that is beyond our ability to impact. Only by standing together and demanding transformation will there be change.
I am a woman of deep faith. I am an American. I believe in the transformational power of love and kindness and understanding to heal broken hearts and minds.
When did we stop listening to one another? When did we close our ears and our minds to messages we didn’t understand, or with which we disagreed? There are multiple groups at the community, state and national levels working to restore civil discussion, to re-teach us the art of the listening mind and heart. The National Association of Counties has a primer on its website for how to embrace civility at the county level. Let’s you and I join in that effort.
While we do that, let’s advocate for reasonable gun control. Lindsey Graham is endorsing a red flag law that could allow relatives to have a loved one’s gun rights suspended if he or she is showing signs of deep mental instability or anger. If he is endorsing this, maybe, just maybe, it is something that can get passed. We’ve been talking about deeper background checks for years and the Democratic-controlled House passed a bill in February. You and I can write our Senators and let them know we support this. This isn’t a political issue to me; it is a human issue. It is about those twenty-nine people who should not have died. It is about all the others that died before them.
We cannot be well in a society that has become ill. We can only use our hands and our feet, our hearts and our minds, to impact transformational change.