What a day for the pick-pick-pick-everything-apart news shows, hm? There seems to be something for everyone in Orlando’s tragedy. Terrorism, Islam, gay rights, gun rights, gun control, mental health, politics, security, freedom, racism, persecution, division…
My own mind swirls. I have no answers. I have no admonitions to issue. I have no suggestions for how such events can be prevented. All I know is that the problem is bigger than any one of these things. (And that anyone who tells you there’s a simple solution is mistaken.)
We are human and we hurt. We hurt others and we suffer hurts ourselves. We wrestle with evil and anxiety and anger and fear, goodness and love and service and sacrifice.
I know good and loving people who are Muslim, who denounce and abhor the terrorism committed in their faith’s name and who suffer its after-effects. I hurt for them and I pray for their safety. But I think the West should be more, not less honest about the social and religious turmoil feeding terrorism today. I think we should be more active in confronting it and I think we Christians should be brave enough to offer our alternative to a theology that takes violence and domination as its central tenants.
I know good and loving people who are gay, who struggle to feel welcome and safe and loved. I grieve for the loss their community sustained in this attack and for the fears it will kindle in them. I pray for their safety and peace of mind. But I disagree with our culture’s take on love and sexuality and marriage, including its championing of homosexuality and other lifestyles too. I don’t think I should have to agree with someone to mourn their loss or pray for their wellbeing.
I know good and loving people who own guns, who abide the law even when they disagree with it, who feel scapegoated for the terrible actions of a few. I want people to understand them. But sometimes I wonder whether it’s all worth it – whether something that is overwhelmingly enjoyed as a hobby should trump the safety of those who are the targets of terrorism and domestic violence and achingly-damaged attention seekers. I just don’t know.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what will work, what can be fixed, what we simply have to accept as members of a free society.
All I know is to plead:
Lord, help us.
Lord, be with us.
Lord, bless the souls of the departed and grant them eternal rest.
Lord, give comfort to those who mourn.
Lord, heal our brokenness.
When I went outside this afternoon to snap pictures of broken things for this post, I (obviously) chose a tree which had some of its top branches snapped off in a storm.
A few minutes later as I was walking on past, I noticed the base of a tall, strong-looking tree and stopped to admire it. The tree gave me a sense of peace, of well-being; I took comfort in how sturdy and resilient it looked.
In a moment, I realized I was looking at the very same tree. The brokenness that had seemed its primary characteristic from one angle was insignificant from another.
I can’t help but think that maybe we — we humans, our world — maybe we are something like that tree.