Voices rail at the exploitation of grieving families and children being interviewed.
Voices call for the regulation and banning of guns.
Voices scream that mental health is misunderstood and help inaccessible.
Voices curse video games and entertainment for the violence of our culture.
Voices attribute words to people who never spoke them.
Voices mock the thought of a good God allowing such an atrocity.
Issues that already were polarized now register on the Richter scale. And the cacophony of voices makes me want to put my fingers in my ears and hum “Over the Rainbow” to dull the roar. Not because the words are wrong. But because of the way in which the words are spoken. Spoken in anger—nay, rage. The same rage that just snuffed out the light of 26 beautiful, innocent lives.
While my voice is meager and I offer only a few limited words, my hope is that these words be as small, lighted buoys in the great sea of verbiage.
We see everyday, Friday no exception, that hurt people hurt people. Yet we, as citizens of this country and fellow occupants of this ever-shrinking planet, must recognize that the same hurt that roils in our gut, also roils in the gut of the person spouting a doctrine diametrically opposed to ours. This willingness to recognize ourselves in others is what triggers empathy. And empathy prompts grace.
As a child, I received this apt definition of grace: to offer something that is undeserved. Grace is an undeserved gift.
The instinctive reaction to pain rarely is grace. Grace, genuine grace, is not a natural response. Yet, unless we stop and consider first our words, they may only serve to inflict more pain, stir more antipathy, and thus exacerbate everything we think our words are trying to assuage.
Therefore, let us measure our words. In a moment of deliberate stillness, allow empathy to bud and grace to grow. Steal one or two (or two hundred) extra seconds before sending that Facebook message. Pause before publishing that blog post. Cease for a moment those twitchy, Tweeting fingers and consider if our words are a necessary antidote for the wounds we feel.
And, at times, silence may be our most gracious response. It may not be deserved, but there is great power in silence.
So let us take a breath, consider our words, and feel deeply this loss to our country. The grief most deeply—most acutely—felt, the greater the victory once healing begins. In the process of healing we are often granted understanding—a portion of wisdom—we formerly lacked. With that wisdom comes change.