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Responding to Horror

How does any ordinary citizen respond to endless shootings? Blacks and Latinos in minority neighborhoods, police working in our streets, churchgoers at prayer meetings, classes in schools, children at McDonald’s, gays having fun at a bar — It appears no place delivers safety and no human on any continent can enjoy feelings of security.

News from Germany states that as ISIL loses territory in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, their leaders encourage sympathizers around the world to create as much horror as possible. Today, we experienced that horror as we learned about children in Germany who became targets for murder. As always, I remind myself that the pain an individual cause measures the pain held inside. Currently, our news signifies a huge deficit of love and an enormous climate of pain. What can we do to reverse this condition?

  1. Rational precautions must be re-evaluated. Intelligence must be scrutinized more carefully.

  2. Along with common sense defenses, we need to evoke our human capacity to care about others. When we boil it all down, only one real answer will end the horror. Love must triumph over hate.

Instructions given at Alcoholics Anonymous encourage participants: to take care of themselves; love the abuser, and “say no” to all unacceptable behaviors. Behaviors can be abhorred without loathing the person. This sums up our immediate challenge and a most pertinent test.

We will never be able to exert enough raw force or cruelty to maintain safety. We can even be extremely harsh with abusers without falling into a personal pit of hatred. Unfortunately, if we leave love off the ticket, we become part of the problem rather than a participant in the solution.

Yes –we reject and despise violence. And, yes — we can remember that every single human started life as a perfect child. Hating violence does not equate to hating the perpetrator. For ordinary citizens, the question remains. Can we act decisively against violence and still maintain our own higher selves? We can no longer afford to engage in the luxury of despising other human beings.


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