Sometimes, the events of our lives, the events of others lives, gets shoved in our faces. Events like the recent mass shootings around the country leave us scratching our collective heads in disbelief—in shock–impossible to ignore.
We are forced to come face to face with the fragility of our cherished illusions of safety.
Because we do not live in some unthinkable ghetto-like concentration camp, or because we do not live in a country ruled by some oppressive regime, we fancy ourselves free of the tyranny of the deranged and misguided.
The harsh reality is that absolute safety is an illusion and we will always be vulnerable and exposed.
There is the random meteor ready to take out all life on our planet and there are the agenda driven people that will commit cowardly acts against strangers and even people they know.
This is the price we pay for living in a world where the deranged and misguided are nurtured.
We collectively must take some responsibility for the fact that certain inequities are created by our very way of life and these inequities can act to nurture the disenfranchised in ways we cannot predict and would just as soon deny. Just as some persons are more susceptible to unacceptable “solutions” so too can the general masses be deluded into thinking that monstrous “answers” are likewise the correct course of action. How else could we sleep at night knowing that the war in Iraq has resulted in at least 160,000 civilian deaths? (This number is actually much higher if one counts all the indirect deaths due to destroyed infrastructure, starvation, lack of medical care etc)
To avoid becoming just like the deranged and misguided, we cannot respond in a deranged and misguided way—we must find a higher road.
It is perhaps the fact it does not happen every day, on every street corner and in every town across America, that accentuates the absurdity of it all, the incomprehensibility of it all, the seeming randomness of it all. It makes it easier to forget or deny that in many parts of the world, such acts are a way of life and have become institutionalized. Having to look the other way at the person at the end of the exit ramp is about as close as we get to the warning signs.
This is in no way an attempt to downplay or justify such acts.
It is merely meant to put in perspective the increased responsibility we all have to come to grips with our own fears and to not demonize all peoples too easily associated with our fears.
Do we let ideological rhetoric and self-righteous anger dictate our course of action, or do we respond with understanding, compassion and love?
It might be time for true Christians to be more Christian and for true Muslims to be more Muslim.
All those things we can feel in our gut about how “different” these two great religions are from each other, is a measure, a barometer, of just how dangerous a path we will allow the fanatics, on both sides, to lead us down.
Attempting to find evil in only one place does nothing more than prevent us from seeing the evil within ourselves—this is the worst kind of terrorism.