This is probably the most difficult blog I’ve written to date. In the face of yet another senseless and tragic loss of life, I want to offer some comfort to others. I search for a way to ease my own angst about the world that my grandchildren will inherit. Even for someone who uses language to create characters, stories, poems and messages, the words are difficult to find. I am one person. Where do I begin?
There is no hope of making sense of it. I will not speak of a depth of hatred that I cannot fathom. I will not write of mental illness as if it is an excuse – One that tarnishes the lives of those who suffer with such an affliction silently, choosing not to act in such an unspeakable manner. There is just no way that I will promote this as a political issue or rant about the second amendment.
The victims and their families deserve so much more than that.
I read the posts on social media. Many are angry, seeking to lay blame. I scan the news accounts for some detail that might help me understand. I seek solace from those among us who are spiritual and wise. I educate myself. I pray. Nothing helps. I feel scared. I feel helpless.
Worst of all, I feel hopeless.
As an individual, what can I do? The face of evil is not always easy to recognize. The malignancy is growing and spreading. I am one person. And my heart is broken.
I am no longer content to simply change my Facebook profile picture or say a prayer. Action is needed here, but what can I do? I am one person.
It’s beyond overwhelming to imagine having an effect on the kind of troubled mind that perpetuates such depravity. Or a society that appears to be starting to accept it as the norm. Regardless of the outrage expressed online or over coffee, most of us are unaffected, at least outwardly. We go about our usual routines. We go to work, we go to the ballgame, we drop our kids off at school.
The changes are subtle. But they’re here. It’s a small world and we all know someone who knows someone. Think about it: Who doesn’t know someone who suffered a loss as the result of 911. Or Sandy Hook. Or Paris. Or Orlando? There is a shift in the way we see the world. Maybe you look at your fellow passengers differently as you await your next flight. Perhaps you feel a false sense of safety when your bag is searched at a concert or a football game. Your eyes scan the emergency exits at the restaurant or you choose your seat more carefully at the nightclub. The seeds have been planted. For most of us, it’s a small shift that we don’t discuss. For our children’s children, however, it will become a way of thinking – a way of living.
I am one person. There is a limit to what I can do. But I must do something. Anything. I feel called to be the light in darkness, to promote forgiveness in the face of hurt, to spread hope where there is fear. But how do I guard my heart against all this pain? How can I walk a path of love amid so much anger and blame?
We must carry on with our lives. We must live fully every day, even in the face of terror. But we must not settle for simply going thru the motions, harboring the seed of fear that has been planted. We must recognize the painful loss of life and allow ourselves to feel the outrage. Then, we must fight against the waste of life… Commit to it, with every fiber of our beings.
I cannot honor the fallen by shrinking away from life. Instead, I choose to embrace life. I will honor the loss of their potential by striving to reach my own. I have been touched by darkness and it has taught me to celebrate the light.
I am one person. I can choose impotence. But I will not succumb. I choose to be significant. Amid the chaos and trepidation, I will find my purpose. I will use my strengths to spread hope. I will not be satisfied to simply put one foot in front of the other. I will live my life with meaning. I will spread joy. I will love.
Mother Teresa said this: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
Go about your day but do so with intent. Embrace that anger and fear. Turn it into purpose. Practice kindness whenever you can. Reach for the stars and realize that you have the power. Avenge the dead by living in a manner that indemnifies them. Be the light.
I am one person. But I am strong. I am fierce. And I am not alone.