The Sandy Hook shooting was a horrible tragedy. I join the world in mourning the 27 victims of this senseless attack, even as I go to sleep and wake up to a world that keeps spinning. As we struggle to integrate this unthinkable situation into our personal reality, we each have a choice about how we respond.
Will we respond with more love or more fear?
Love expands, reaching out to others, connecting to others, sending out blessings and prayers.
Fear contracts, creating even more separation and hence even more suffering for the fearful and for the whole.
Love has faith in the fundamental goodness of life and other people and chooses to keep an open heart.
Fear despairs and builds walls and fortresses.
Love is understanding and takes appropriate responsibility. Love knows we are all connected. We are all connected to those 27 women and children the shooter killed, and we are also all connected to the shooter. Love knows that the shooter was not an alien, that he was someone’s child and brother, classmate, neighbor. Love understands that he struggled in life, and as a society, we had few solutions to his problems. Love knows that, while each person is responsible for his or her actions, we did not help when we averted our eyes as his mother struggled to save him alone – and when other mothers struggle to raise their children alone in circumstances we can’t even fathom.
Fear blames. Fear can’t bear the idea that this shooter could have been anyone’s child. Fear wants to blame someone – his mother, his father, even gun laws. Fear tries to separate itself from the rest, to deny our common humanity in the belief it could never happen to them.
Love forgives. Love knows forgiveness is not easy, but it is part of healing. Love knows forgiveness does not mean a person’s actions were okay and forgiveness is not for the benefit of the shooter. Love knows that harboring hatred for him is like drinking poison and hoping he will die. He’s already dead. Only we are left to suffer when we cannot forgive.
Fear demands revenge. Revenge isn’t even possible in this case, because the shooter killed himself. Even when it is possible, revenge begets more violence as each side responds to the other in a never-ending cycle of violence.
I choose to do my best to respond to the shooting at Sandy Hook with more love not more fear.
I am going to remember those 27 victims, mourn them and celebrate them. I am going to educate myself about mental illness. I am going to examine my insatiable need for more information and details about tragedies. I am going to try to understand what happened at Sandy Hook and look for any ways I can help make sure it doesn’t happen again. I am going to try to forgive, for my own benefit and the benefit of the world. And I am going to do my best to respond with more love to the folks who are responding with more fear and not let their fear-driven words and actions frighten me or cast me into despair.
How will you choose to respond to the Sandy Hook shooting?
Will you respond with more love or more fear?