Monday, November 16, 2015

Together We Are Mighty

As I watched the news this weekend, my heart hurt. The terror our world abides is harrowing and tragic. Witnessing the events from an unfettered perspective would be traumatizing enough, but this isn't the first time we've borne witness to evil and pain and sorrow.

Personally, my heart was indelibly shattered fourteen years prior, as I sat on my bed and watched the horrors of 9/11 unfold. As a senior at a very conservative college, I led an intensly sheltered life up to that point - I was naive and self-absorbed and the exact opposite of worldly.

I stared into a small, square box and felt every inch of my body react as the realization of the egregious events washed over me. This was before social media and YouTube and widespread HDTV. We didn't have cable internet yet (at least I didn't), or anyone other than Peter Jennings to tell us how we should feel about the events we were observing. There were no hashtags or memes or flags to put over our profile pictures to prove that we were affected by all that was happening. 

Instead, I sat alone and watched those planes fly and the twin towers fall; my innocence crumbling right along with them.

Watching the news this weekend was reminiscent of that time in my life when I could no longer avert my eyes from the reality of our world. When I knew deep down that things would never go back to the way they had been before. 

The events in Paris, Beirut, Syria and Baghdad are unfathomable, just as they are in many other places around the globe. Just as they were on September 11th, during WWII, in Charleston, at Sandy Hook, and during thousands of other horrific moments in our history. 

My heart truly breaks for mankind. At times, I worry I'm not a good citizen of this Earth. I avoid the news, and I don't stay abreast of political and global issues in the way I should. I dither between a desire to help others and outright ignorance. But, the truth is that I'm scared. I'm fearful for us all.

So many of us have taken to our blogs and social media to speak on these latest atrocities. The events of last week have given us a platform in which to say out loud the things we have been holding within. But, why have we waited so long? 

Forget about others - plenty have made themselves heard. This is about me. Why haven't I said enough is enough before now? When do I stop being idle and start shouting from the rooftops - THIS is not the existence I had in mind for my children or the children of our world!

Many of us hide behind the false notion that we have no power or resources to make any real difference. Unfortunately, there is no room for complacency when people are losing their lives every day. When terror is no longer just a product of war, but an almost daily occurrence in our churches, restaurants, theatres, and schools. When people choose to endure unspeakable cruelty by depraved individuals because defending their birthright would be far worse.

How are we to live freely when the rest of the world does not?

And even here, in the Land of the Free, are we really free? When did the word safety become appropriated to the privacy of our own homes and for many, not even then? When did freedom become contingent on being in the right place at the right time? God forbid we go to a movie on the wrong day or send our children to school. For many, even walking down the street, or playing on the playground, or venturing into the wrong neighborhood is a death sentence. 

These are scary times, but we must not let them scare us into inaction. I wish I had a solution or even a suggestion as to what we could do to help. This is a highly political issue and opinions are as vast as the sea. I certainly don't know what the right steps are, but I do know I can pray. I can pray for our country and our world and for all of the people who are lost and hurting and homeless. I can pray for the childless mothers and the motherless children and the millions of people who have lost someone or something that they love - their family and their friends. Their homes, their identity, their freedom.

I can teach my children that though they be little, they be fierce. We are never too small or too big, too marginalized or too privileged, too rich or too poor to affect change. Many times change begins at home - on our streets and playgrounds; in the very churches and theaters and schools that we are beginning to fear.

Many times change begins with a smile or a listening ear or a helping hand. With teaching our children about seeing other people as individuals and not as stereotypes or statistics.

Change also happens with a voice, a platform, a community of like-minded people, and a vote. A mass of people who bond together to say: 

Enough is enough. We will accept this NO MORE.

Alone, we are often feeble, but together we are mighty. Lets take our broken hearts into the world and heal them together.

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