How can I be articulate when I have no words? How can I write about something that I do not fully understand? How can I feel at peace when my heart is so heavy? How can I be happy when my mind is filled with tears?
It has been a violent and murderous summer all around the world. So many souls have been lost in Orlando, Istanbul, Baghdad, Bangladesh, Louisiana, Minnesota, Dallas. Did I forget some place? I suspect that I did because my mind is spinning, unfocused. I find it hard to even think. My emotions have overtaken me. My heart seems to be ruling my head.
I am on vacation with my grandchildren. I want to remain calm and happy for them. They should not have to deal with the horror of all that has happened. I do not want them to be afraid. I struggle to know what to tell them. They are bright children but do not understand hate. They love with honesty and innocence. They do not categorize people. They cannot comprehend any ideas of “them and us.” I want them to remain as optimistic and unfettered by preconceived notions as possible but I know that eventually the realities of the world will catch up with them.
For days and even weeks I have witnessed the pain of my LGBT friends. I have seen the agony of those who are African American. I have read posts in which they cried out for understanding. I have heard from those of Muslim faith who worry that they will be ostracized because of their religious beliefs. Hispanic friends have spoken of feeling unwanted in a country that is just as much theirs as mine. Families of police officers have iterated the fear that they feel every time a loved one puts on a uniform and goes to work. Mothers of young black men have admitted that they worry when their sons are out alone. There is much anxiety and grief permeating relationships and conversations.
I wish that I had the wisdom to know what to do. I want to protest my love for my fellow man and insist that all of us are mostly good but each time that I do the evidence mounts that there is far too much hate swirling around us. I sense that trust is in short supply these days. More and more people that I know are choosing sides when this is the very time in which we should be overcoming our differences and forging ever stronger alliances.
Many of us are praying today. Somehow it seems to be the best that we might do given the circumstances. We remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who admonished us to escape darkness through love. We have all read accounts of Jesus commanding us to love one another. It seems a simple but powerful idea. We wonder why it is sometimes so hard to do.
The answer to our problems begins with each of us. One person at a time joining without conditions with one more and then one more to form a chain of love that is stronger than even the most evil forces on earth. It is what we must do. The fighting and hating will never entirely go away but an army of good people has the power to shut down even the most terrible.
Each of us is the same flesh and blood. We all have dreams. We all seek security. We want our children to be honest and good people. It hurts all of us when an injustice is done to one of us. It hurts all of us when violence is perpetrated on any of us. We can work this out but we have to sincerely want to do so. We can no longer afford to pay lip service to the ideals that should be at the heart of all of our actions. We must listen and love and understand. We must lower our voices and condemn hate where ever it is found, always remembering not to blame an entire group for the horrendous actions of a few.
It is true that we have rogue cops who react too quickly because the stereotypes inside their minds causes them to be unnecessarily fearful. They are too quick to escalate situations that should be easily handled without murderous consequences. It is true that most police officers are good men and women who truly want to protect us from the worst criminals. It is true that the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving people but that some among them are intent on evil. It is true that our Hispanic brothers and sisters are hard working individuals who make our nation stronger. It is true that we have persecuted those who have different sexual preferences long enough. It is true that most Christians are loving people but some have distorted the world of God into a religion of judgement and hate. It is true that we should not typecast anyone by race, religion, age or lifestyle. It is true that we should abhor any ideologies that divide us into warring camps.
If we do not use the events of this summer to find unity, understanding and love then all of the tragic and unnecessary deaths will have been in vain. It is time for all good men and women to rise up in indignation and with purpose. Mostly it is time for each of us to reach out even to those with whom we disagree to begin a healing process that has been too long in coming. Let us pray but let us prove with our actions that we are determined to take a stand for love.