Today's tragic events at a baseball practice in Virginia prompt a reflection on violence - violent words and violent actions. It's a topic most of us would like to ignore, but sadly, we cannot because we are its victims.
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My country, the United States of America, is armed. Not just the South, as Northerners like to imagine. Not just the inner cities, as suburban folks might suggest. The entire country is armed – from New York to Florida, from Chicago to the Gulf States, from Seattle to Arizona. But, why?
Are we all afraid of the drug dealers down the street or the thieves who prey on innocents? Why are we armed? I suspect that the real reason we are armed is because of the precipice at which we stand - the chasm of failed trust.
We’ve suffered through a very contentious election process. If it weren’t battering enough to listen to months of ugliness, we now deal with post-election nastiness - which erupted today in the cowardly shooting of unarmed people.
As a person who has experienced violence up close and personal, who has known diminishment because of my gender, who has been ridiculed because of what I believe, I know what it is to be considered valueless. But I also know what it takes to face that abyss straight on.
My heroes, those who accompany me through life, are Harriett Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu. They walked a path marked by courage, choosing non-violence over hate, as they traveled into the heart of conflict and sorrow. Their path is one I believe we need to embrace.
We see the evidence and surely we must know that a choice for violence in words or deeds is a choice to destroy. The rhetoric defending such actions moves me not. I may be old and foolish, but I believe we each can summon the courage to bridge the divide, to restore trust in humankind.
You and I ultimately hold the possibility of hope for our country, for our world. Plato's words "Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle," get to the heart of the problem. If we find ourselves hating someone or someones, we need to pause, because hate unraveled reveals a hurting heart.
I care about our country – profoundly. I care about my loved ones – profoundly. I care about our beautiful earth – profoundly. And, I know that all that I love, all that I care about, teeters on your choice and mine.
If we could summon the courage to attend to our hurting hearts, would we still feel the need to lash out in word or deed to blame another for our misery? I wonder, don't you?