Like many around the world, my soul has been mourning the horrible shooting in Orlando. I am weeping for the families and friends that are grieving the unimaginable loss of their loved ones. I am saddened for my LGBTQ friends who seem to be in a neverending fight to simply be themselves. I am frustrated that in this day and age there are people who still don’t know or recognize the difference between a kind and loving typical Muslim and demented soul who distorts a giving and peaceful religion into a hateful one. And while I have seen a great outpouring of love from so many, I still hear whisperings and sometimes shoutings of hate and hostility and even a call for more violence.
And as we were all still mourning the loss of 49 precious souls, there was yet another tragedy in Orlando when an alligator drowned a helpless toddler. I can’t imagine how the parents must have felt. They must still wake in the middle of the night with dispare, while replaying the tragedy in their mind. And while we once again saw an outpouring of love, we also saw people judging and blaming the parents for their sweet boy’s death.
Why do people react with judgment and hate when tragedy strikes? Is it fear? Do they truly believe that if you live a “perfect” life that horrible things will not happen to you? Do they believe that they deserve the comfortable and worry free life they have? And even if they do believe these things, how is it that they can not have compassion for people when life is cruel, harsh and unfair?
It seems as though we are so busy trying to avoid the pain and injustice of life that when we see it happening to others we know a response is needed. I think this where a soul choice needs to be made.
When faced with this choice, there is a group of people who will blame, shame, and scorn. They will point out why others deserved their horrible fate. They remind the victims that they should have made other choices and that if they had, life would be kinder and easier. They turn their backs on the pain and remind themselves, falsely, that they are safe from all harm because they are doing everything rightly. They don’t step outside of themselves and want to learn and understand more about the world; they instead want to make their world smaller hoping that that will make it safer.
Or, there is a group that puts themselves fully in the shoes of the pained and try to understand and hold the injustice with them. They mourn when death happens because most have felt the sting of death, and know it isn’t something you easily let go. They don’t judge a tragic accident because they remember the many failures of their own life. They hold and help carry the burden of the broken hearted, knowing that brokenhearted is an emotion we will all feel once or twenty times in our lives. They bravely go into a hurting world knowing understanding and compassion won’t necessarily bring safety, but that it will bring wholeness.
I want to believe that most of us want to help carry the pain and injustice so that others do not need to hold the full burden of life alone. We want to reach outside ourselves. However, to live being fully in the world, holding the injustice, and hoping in hopeless situations takes bravery, and a great letting go of the belief of how things should be. It is brave to love what you do not know or understand. It is brave to put aside our own fears and hold the pain of those who lived through fear and tragedy. It is brave to let go of the idea that life will be gracious and kind if you live it just right.
Richard Rohr wrote, “There are two things that draw us outside of ourselves: pain on other people’s face and the unbelievable beauty that is other human beings at their best.” We notice the world when it causes pain and when it shows us brave, bold love. What are we going to do with that knowledge? Are we going to point fingers, yell and ask the world to do it our way, and believe the injustices of this world are really some type of righteous justice? Or, are we going to let go of all of our fear and go boldly into the world, knowing it can be hard and unreliable, but help each other with compassion and graciousness regardless?
I pray I can let go of all fear, let go of all misunderstanding, let go of all self-righteousness and bravely, without question, love this broken, unjust world. As I see it, it is our only hope.
I am writing on the topic of letting go with some brave women. To read more on the topic, start with Cissy’s blog and then click on through the blog roll.