50 dead. 53 wounded.
What do we do about it? Sadly, nothing.
As I have thought about and prayed about the mass murder event that occurred two nights ago, the thing that is most striking to me is the way we collectively just shrug our shoulders and go on with our lives.
Sure, the people who lost loved ones in the massacre will be dealing with unimaginable grief for the rest of their lives. The first-responders who witnessed the aftermath of the carnage and tended to the victims will carry the trauma for years and years.
But most Americans will be fundamentally unaffected by the tragedy. They will be sad for a day or two, might express some outrage on social media, and may even reach out to a friend or family member who has drifted away, hoping to rekindle a connection. They might even write a blog.
But that will be it. We will accept this horrific event as something that is just a part of life in this world, and we will believe that there is nothing we can do about it.
Is that reality, or is it a lie?
Actually, it is a lie. It is the deepest and darkest lie there is. . .one spawned from the pit of hell and promulgated by evil through every mechanism of this world.
The truth is the opposite: we can do something about these horrible events.
Before you reject what I am about to offer and say it is unrealistic, I challenge you to think honestly through the implications of what I suggest. The principle at play here is unassailable. It is pervasive in human society. . .so simple and yet so universally accepted, it is endorsed by every thinking person on the planet, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, humanist. . .every person who is willing to access the truth they know in their heart.
And the mechanism, though somewhat slow-moving, has the capacity to reach every corner, every crack and crevice, every height and every hole of human society. It is the most contagious and impactful principle in all human interaction. It is self-propagating and self-reinforcing.
It asks nothing of us that falls outside of our sphere of influence; it demands only that we control what we can control. . .our selves and our choices.
The solution? I will use the words of Jesus, because I am a Christian: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Yes, the Golden Rule.
We all know the principle. None would argue that it is not a thing for us to aspire to. Jesus identified it as the second most important commandment in all of human history. . .in all of creation. Why? Because it is the foundation of all human relationship and all human interaction. It is the single capacity that we carry that distinguishes us from all other living creatures.
It is amazingly simple. If we all treat others with love as we would want to be loved, then these things would cease to happen.
As we adopt and practice the golden rule as our personal value, it not only infuses all of our choices and actions, but it impacts and influences every person we are in relationship with. And that influence reaches every other person our family members and friends are in relationship with. And it spreads.
It spreads in unimaginably wonderful and beautiful ways. . .from person to person to person.
As we love others as we would love ourselves, not only do we experience kindness and compassion and care, but we also see each other. We see the broken and the hurting, the hateful and the destructive. We see those men and women who are a danger to others, and this key principle of loving others as we would love ourselves causes us to act.
We act when we recognize danger in another, and we love the dangerous by providing boundaries for them — by pursuing care or treatment or containment, if necessary, through the agencies and mechanisms put in place by our society for the protection of all.
It works. . .if we would just. . .one by one by one by one. . .put the principle into practice.
A closing thought: before you put this horrible event in Orlando into its designated box in your consciousness, I challenge you to ask yourself how this kind of event aligns with our personal theology. So many of us adopt a theology/philosophy/world view that is incomplete and unrealistic; it doesn’t have a place for events like Orlando or Sandy Hook or San Bernardino.
If your world view doesn’t explain these things, then you need to start looking for a new world view. . .the real truth. . .one that reflects and explains the horrible realities of the world we live in.
For me, the Bible provides that truth, and Jesus offers the way to deal with the darkness in this world.
What is your truth?