Yesterday after getting home from my workout at the gym, I learned of the shooting at the Tucson Safeway, and how Congresswoman Giffords was shot and several people slain in the shootings. This event made me think about how our society has changed over the last few decades, and just how much hatred and strife penetrates this earth. Upon hearing the news, I prayed. I prayed for the congresswoman, her family and friends, I prayed for those injured, I prayed for those whose lives were lost and their families. I prayed for the doctors and nurses that cared for those hit.
After praying, and finding out that the killer was a young man in his early 20's, I began wondering what causes someone to act with such hatred upon people who are total strangers. How does a young soul with so much potential and so much life ahead of him carry out such an evil act? I can't say that I have an answer except a life lived without knowing love, and soaked in bitterness and hatred for others, can only ooze out what has been put into it.
This morning, I listened to an interview of the mother of the 9 year old girl who was slain in the Tucson shooting yesterday. She recalled her daughter as being a princess, who was born on 9/11/01. The girl loved red, white and blue, because of the patriotism and unity that tragic day brought out in America. The mother's wish was that we would learn the lessons and that this kind of violence would not touch another family.
As I look back on the last 24 hours, it occurs to me that this tragic act hurts me because of the innocence and servant attitude of those who were slain. They were people with families, with responsibilities, with children, people with hopes and dreams. I was pulled into their lives through the media coverage that was present. I have also thought about my local news where almost nightly there are news stories of people hurt or killed in shootings in our local area. Somehow, my response to those stories, although happening in my proverbial back door did not affect me as much as those yesterday. What makes those loss of lives more significant or less significant than another? Maybe it is the fact that I am not personally pulled into their lives through media coverage, because those souls are just normal people, and not famous or of political stature. Maybe I am getting calloused and have been desensitized to the violence that permeates this country. I am afraid that it is a combination of the two factors that caused my difference in reactions.
Personally, I do not think that gun control or legislation is the answer to preventing such violence. The violence is just a symptom of a bigger problem. I think the problem stems from hatred and bitterness. It stems from a lack of compassion and inability to empathize with others. It stems from an inability to see how one act can be catastrophic and has a ripple effect across all of humanity. It comes from a lack of respecting life and its sanctity.
In all honesty, I do believe that each and every life has a divine purpose. Each soul is a priceless treasure full of dreams and the potential to do great things. The loss of any soul due to a violent act is a tragic loss. When we realize this and actually live like we believe this, we might see others realizing the value of each person. Then, we could reach out in love to aid those who are hurting, impoverished, diseased, or disturbed. When we start loving others as we have been loved by God and our families, then maybe we could counteract a portion of the hatred and bitterness that encapsulates such people and possibly bring about a change. I know this is idealistic and would take a virtual miracle to occur, but if we never step out and make an emotional investment in the lives of people whom no one has ever invested their love and time into--we will never know the possibilities.
I know that as long as there are imperfect people inhabiting the earth, there will always be violence and strife. But love can conquer many things...and its greatest challenge is conquering hatred. Love is our only hope in conquering hatred, bitterness and violence, and its only cost is our time, and investing our life, into the life of another.