I’ve stared at the business end of guns twice in my life. Once at the hands of a criminal and once at the hands of overzealous police. Neither incident will ever leave my mind.
Each time I see death and destruction like we have seen this past Friday I am quickly reminded of how I would have responded back in the day when I believed in the same theology as Mike Huckabee and those like him. A time when I lived life without owning a shred of empathy for others. My reaction would have been to respond just as he did, blaming others for removing (my) god from public schools. Oddly enough I would have said (my) god was not allowed in public schools knowing in my heart I believed (my) god was omnipresent and knowing the impossibility of a government restraining access to my omnipotent god.
I would have done just as he did, ignore the insane and incomprehensible deaths of teachers and students and focused on trying to use the incident as a way to evangelize for my version of truth.
I would have responding in the only way I knew how, with selfishness and self-service.
It was a lonely path, thinking I was always being persecuted for my faith. Especially in moments like this when people would “attack” me for speaking (my decided) truth.
During times like this I feel humbled and still amazed that I was able to find a path to self-acceptance, the ability to love myself and miraculously, a way to learn empathy for others. It took me years to get those things right.
Now when I see the guns, the destruction of life, and the inevitable religious (it’s not always someone who identifies as a version of a christian) chaotic call, I still feel unsafe. But it’s a different kind of lack of safety.
We are all responsible for lost lives and vanished hopes when we do not take moments like these as turning points. It’s not about guns, it’s not about my right to own a gun, it’s not about mental issues, and it’s definitely not about religion. These days, right now, are about how we as human beings choose to make the world a safer place for everyone.
Safer for kids who should never feel bullied at school, let alone worried that they might never go home. Safer for teachers who should never wonder if their school will be next. Safer for parents who trust so many other people with the safety of their children. Safer for me and you, who need to be able to sign off on just one year where we didn’t have to watch or hear about loss due to our inability to do the right thing to protect each other physically, mentally and humanly.
Doing the right thing takes courage and compassion, something which is learned and tested by life’s experience. In this instance it also means putting others before ourselves for the greater good of all.