December 17th, 2012
Dear Friends…we have all been aware of the shooting at Sandy Hook. So far, the responses I’ve seen have been expected; sadness, outrage, wanting to send love to the families, strong opinions about guns, gun laws, and gun owners, opinions about this person, those children, that situation. I’m always conflicted in these times because while, of course, I can’t help but feel absolutely awful for what everyone involved is going through, I also am also very uncomfortable with most people’s responses to it. I’ve never quite been able to put words around how I feel. Until today. Today I received a letter from my good friend and colleague, Zoe Wild who speaks absolutely beautifully about this terrible situation. Please read her words and tell me what you think. Where do you stand?
“I’ve been watching the response online, yesterday and today, since the news of the Sandy Hook School shooting broke.
This is a horrific tragedy, and my heart breaks beyond conception for the families of these children and teachers. It is a horror I can only imagine, and I pray with tears for grace to hold and uplift the spirits of the survivors in whatever way is possible over the many years of healing to come. One thing I know from my experience working & volunteering as a Chaplain with the bereaved and dying is that grief never ends—it just changes over time.
That said, for those of us not immediately connected to those personally impacted by this tragedy (for whom rage, and anything else, must flow), we must be vigilant in our response if we truly wish to prevent this sort of event from happening again.
Many are sharing that they “cannot imagine” how anyone could do this, they are “horrified”. One person wrote: “I am completely disgusted by what an evil and twisted individual is capable of.” Another wrote: “we [must use] our collective voice against the inhumanity of the few and …extinguish the fires of hatred others have spawned.”
While I can understand where these responses come from, the fact is that this is more hate, separation, denial and righteousness. These speakers celebrate their own outrage and abdicate social responsibility; their words are not about the victims at all. Acts like this are not acts of hatred—they are acts of pain, suffering, confusion and illness.
The shooter’s actions are awful. I am not saying he is not responsible. What I am saying is that this did not come out of nowhere, he is not an alien and this is not a sci-fi movie. He is a human being, and if we truly seek to prevent other humans from acting in this way, we must understand how this happened. We cannot do that unless we first admit to our shared humanity.
It is by acknowledging our connection and the fallibility of our species – by recognizing that even killers were children once, and questioning what could have happened to make them lose connection with compassion in such a profound way, that we will find a solution. We must commit to discovering, to trusting that we CAN in fact understand why, to finding that perhaps we are culpable in some part, rather than shrug and rage and turn our backs…until it happens again.
We must be courageous. We must look into our own hearts and truly see with all humility, “there, but for grace, go I.” We cannot know how we would have fared in his circumstances. We can’t know that we would have done any better. This is humbling, even horrifying, and yet it evokes the unity that can create true social transformation and healing. I believe we are capable of this.
Dr. King, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Jesus—would they have railed at this person? Would they have raised themselves above him? I don’t believe so. And it is not because they were so Awake that they would not, it is because they would not, that they became so Awake.
This is the only way we will find a solution to these acts. Commit to understand, to know, and then respond from that knowledge. It may require changing the media, healthcare, social & family structures. It may seem to require much more from each of us than denial or shaming or separating ourselves from the other. It is worth it.
So I beg of you, when you are ready, to open your eyes wider, despite the pain – both to yourself and the other – rather than close them. We can understand; we can at least try. From that place, we can respond with wisdom and compassion for ALL. From that place, ending these tragedies forever is possible. Do not turn away when our human society needs your clear, wise and compassionate seeing the most.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
With deep sorrow, love and hope,
“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV”
Zoe is a fellow life coach and teacher of spirituality in a way that is completely understandable and brought down to earth (my words…not hers). She teaches complex spiritual ideas in very simple ways. I’ve learned a lot from her and she does this really cool videos series that teaches you tips on how to live better. Check out her website and get on her mailing list if any of this resonates with you. And please leave a comment below with your opinions on this. Do you agree? Do you have a different point of view? Please share below.