Another act of domestic terrorism. This time, 21 lives were lost, and thousands of lives will never be the same, in a small Texas community. I can’t stop crying and my heart is once again shattered. What demons must the shooter have been grappling with to invoke such evil?
Do you know how many members of the United States military were killed over 14 years in the War in Afghanistan? 2,448. In a sick twist of fate… a similar number, 2,844 people were injured and an additional 702 lives were claimed in mass shootings in the United States in 2021 alone (source: TheTrace.org). In terms of total gun-related deaths in 2021, nearly 21,000 lives were lost. When is this going to end? This cannot be the true calling of humanity.
Unfortunately, shocking numbers and tears are not going to get us anywhere. We have a responsibility to take action. However, so many of us wonder what we can do as everyday citizens to quiet those demons so that we can end the mass violence that is occurring in our world. For me, despite efforts to the contrary, I sense that there is only so much I can do to affect the machinations of the gun lobby or my elected officials. But, what I can do is walk arm in arm with the survivors in Uvalde… and El Paso, and Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, and Sandy Hook, and Orlando, and Orange County, and Overland Park, and… and… and… so many other communities across our nation. What I can do is encourage connection. You can, too.
To that end, on the May 26th episode of Jenn White’s program, 1A, from NPR’s WAMU, San Antonio-based Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller talked about the importance of connection. He reflected that each one of us can reach out with love, can embrace one another with kindness, can make others feel included. I agree.
Additionally, I proudly serve on the board of SevenDays, an organization that was born out of a similar murderous incident in my own hometown in Kansas, who’s mission is to overcome hate by promoting kindness and understanding through education and dialogue. Again, connection.
Consider these ideas for taking immediate action yourself:
- Phone a friend – especially someone who may be going through a difficult time – just to say “hello” and tell them they are on your mind.
- Visit with a neighbor – invite them to join you for a cup of coffee, get to know one another.
- Send a message of support to a community impacted by violence – a little bit of love in the form of a letter, a drawing, a poem, a donation will help those grieving to let them know they are not alone.
- Connect with your elected officials – by reaching out to political leaders and other influential members of your communities to share your views on protecting the community, you will make strides toward having a positive impact. Let them know how important it is to you that we connect with one another through kindness, patience and understanding, while at once protecting the lives of all members of our community, especially the most vulnerable.
So, now you know what I intend to do – to promote kindness and understanding through connection. Won’t you join me? In so doing, I wonder how many tragic incidents we could help to prevent. Irrespective of people’s divergent points of view regarding guns, of political affiliations, of ideological divides in our society, I know that we can build bridges.
With prayers – and action – for healing and a safer, kinder future, I wish you all strong connections.