There Is No “They”

Last night, in an effort to try to process the unfathomable events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, I began to write:

There is no “they”, only “we”. We must live in community with one another.

That was it. That was all I could get out. The gravity of this tragedy, the polarizing comments on social media, the sensational TV reporting… it was all just too much. So I stopped trying to decipher and dissect, and focused on exactly what I should have in that moment — my family.

I absorbed the laughter of my 13 year old daughter and her friends who were with us for a sleep-over. I watched my husband and 10 year old son play a game together. I snuggled with my 5 1/2 year old son and was ashamed when I realized it was a foreign feeling because we hadn’t done so in awhile. How dare I take such blessings for granted!

I went to bed heartbroken for the families of those lost yesterday. And my first thought upon waking this morning were of those families; their lives have been irrevocably changed. Our lives have been irrevocably changed.We must take time to grieve, then we must take action. I don’t exactly know what needs to change, but something must change. Enough is enough.

This morning before I sat down to, once again, try to put my thoughts into words, I saw Oriah’s Facebook status. After reading this I realized there was no need for me to write anything else; for me, what she said here says it all:

I want us to find a way to co-create a world where killing others- children or adults, in my community or in other places in the world, is truly unthinkable, a thing of the past.

I want to add to the level of peace in the world; I don’t want to add to the violence by how I am with myself, others & the world. I don’t always succeed in this. Sometimes my thoughts or my words are vicious, separating, name-calling, accusatory, fired with the agony of senseless tragedies.

Good & intelligent people may disagree with what may seem to me to be obvious steps toward solutions that would prevent future tragedies. Disagreement is not a reason not to act with passion & conviction for what we feel are the solutions- but it is a reason to listen carefully & contemplate deeply even as we take action, as we communicate our solutions, as we find a way to move forward together- because there is no other way to move forward but together.

I want to let my grief over tragic losses & senseless violence fuel my efforts to work for peace & safety for all, without creating more separation- even with those who disagree with how to do this. When I use violent language- when I dismiss those who disagree with me by calling them names- I diminish the effectiveness of my actions for change, I lose energy for building something new & divide the world into endless groupings of “them” and “us.”

There is no “them” & “us”- it’s all us. Yesterday “we” lost children, loved-ones. Yesterday “one of us” shot children in a senseless act of violence. Today “we” must find ways to stop the violence, the loss of life.

I am not neutral- I have strong feelings, beliefs and thoughts about the ownership & use of firearms, about services for the mentally ill, about how we live together and protect our children.

I don’t want to disengage out of fear of not participating perfectly, or because I do not have a clear & complete solutions. I have faith that real community conversation & action will continue to inform & shape how I pursue my passion for co-creating a place of safety for us all.

So, let us take our heart-break & our sorrow into our actions. Let’s allow our sorrow to fuel our participation. But let our means (how we act, how we talk & listen to each other, how we build together) be consistent with our desired non-violent ends. Let contemplation & prayer be one way we fuel our spirits & honestly consider where we are are separating ourselves in our hearts and our language from those with whom we share this planet. It is possible (not easy, but possible) to work for peace, to take action for change, without losing sight of the humanity in all others- even those with whom we disagree.

Oriah

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