Like so many of you, I am sick and tired and angry and confused and dumfounded and disgusted and broken hearted over the latest mass shooting, now in Vegas. Each time these happen, I see a gazillion people say they are praying. Frankly, that's losing meaning for me. I still believe prayer works. But I do NOT believe prayer is a replacement for love, action and compassion. And that is what bothers me each time these things happen. What can I DO? I feel so helpless.
I am aware that I can give money, give blood, give organs, give time, give assistance, etc. However, like many of you may also experience, some of those things are practically impossible or else incredibly difficult for whatever reason. Some will be able to, some will not.
So, the more I pondered this, the more I thought that the best thing I can do is to genuinely love as many people as I can today! To have meaningful connections with every human being I can today. To reflect the value of another. To make eye contact, smile, and speak. To promote connection, not isolation. To create community, not fuel loneliness. These are things I CAN do today. And I think they matter...a lot!
A friend of mine in South Africa sent me the following sentiments that so deeply resonated with my heart. It is written by a man named Gabriel Snyman:
More than fifty people died and many got injured in a shooting attack in Las Vegas. A Police officer got run over and stabbed and pedestrians got injured in a terrorist attack in Edmonton over the weekend. These two incidents have important differences...But there is to me one glaring similarity between the two perpetrators. They were individuals that operated in isolation. The Las Vegas suspect had a girlfriend but according to reports she didn’t even know of his plans. One would expect the ideologically motivated Edmonton suspect to operate in a group...yet he seems to have operated all on his own. Both these men were lonely. When asking ourselves how to respond as church and how we can deepen involvement apart from the customary condemnation of the attacks, maybe this similarity of isolation could be a good place to start. Men (and woman) isolated and disconnected from deep, lasting and meaningful relationships seem to be a growing trend. This is ironic as technology like social media that makes contact possible is a rising trend. Violence, addiction to pornography and drug addiction are all problems related to individuals being isolated and disconnected....So if you want to respond in a God honouring way to the violent, unpredictable world we woke up to this morning-Here is a suggestion: Don’t vilify doctrine. Don’t think hiding away with your family behind the walls or better security and policing is going to solve the problem. Respond by reaching out. Invite the neighbour you know nothing about, over. Chat to the stranger next to you in the shopping line (if you are an introvert respond to the weird extrovert that dared to talk to you kindly). Go to church…and to the sport club and other community initiatives. Develop a habit to take an interest in others because it has a way of opening people up and nudging them towards community. You cannot fight terrorist groups or twisted ideologies on your own. You don’t have the capacity to check surrounding hotel rooms and high balconies of every place you attend-neither has the police. But what you can fight is isolation. I don’t know about you but I am going to make eye contact and smile at the very next person I see when I leave this desk! It might be a more Christian thing to do than the Bible study I have done all morning!
So, in the words of my friend Jeff, I think I will go hug my kids. And when I go out later today, I will be on a mission to talk to people. I can't do it all, but I can do something. And so can you.