Two days after the largest mass shooting in the United States, I find myself incredibly angry. It’s easy to be angry after such an unnecessary, careless, incomprehensible act of violence. I’m angry at the young man who felt this was a necessary action. I’m angry about the investigations that came away with results that didn’t prevent the young man from purchasing the weapons he used to carry out his act of hate. I’m angry that so many people died for no reason. However, I think more than anything I’m angry about our response in the wake of tragedy.
So for now I turn to my blog, a space that I hope I can open a dialogue by sharing my thoughts, hoping that from this you hear my anger as more than just anger. I wish I could say that people around the country were coming together and mourning for the victims and the family and friends that were left behind.
As a counseling student it’s incredibly arrogant to think that I know better than anyone else but perhaps I am in a better place to understand the trauma, at least from a place of working with those who are experiencing that trauma. From the understanding I’ve gained through studies and working with actual people, I mourn for not only the victims, but also for those that were there and the family members who rushed in after the fact. I mourn because it will take weeks, months, and years to work through and learn how to cope with the trauma. Those affected will never be the same as they were learning to adjust to a new normal after the tragedy.
In light of knowing that those affected will never be the same, I simply ask, HOW DARE WE? How dare we take this tragedy and use it to push our personal and political agendas? How dare we take this tragedy that should be bringing people together and use it only to separate us even further. How dare we use this tragedy founded in hate to produce more hate?!
In the hours and days since the tragedy has been revealed to and shared with the world, people on both sides of the political ideology have begun to champion their own agendas. For those on the left, this is simply more evidence to file away for their call for gun control. For those on the right, this is just further “evidence,” that those that are different from us (radical muslims) can’t be trusted and that yet again President Obama can’t be trusted to handle national tragedy. Proponents for each sides of those arguments have spent the last few days lashing out at the other, calling each other irresponsible and never once stopping to care for those who need caring for.
How can we possibly take the victims and those affected and simply reduce them into part of a political equation meant to make “our” side the winner? Where is the love, compassion and care that we should be offering to those who have a long road of trauma recovery ahead? How does pushing for your political agenda (which ever side you fall on) or insulting the other side help further their path to recovery?
Perhaps if we look to this as a wake up call we could come to the table, sit down together and share our lives with one another. We won’t agree on every issue but we can love one another. As a Christian this may sound like a hollow and shallow promise to an LGBTQ group that has routinely been vilified because of who they are. However, perhaps this tragedy should be the first step in repairing what has been a fractured relationship between the LGBTQ community and the church. A relationship that is built upon respect, love, and care even though there are disagreements.
The scriptures teach us that we are to love one another but we haven’t been good at loving others only condemning them for the sins that we see in their life. We have spent decades condemning them and not loving them the way that Christ would. Perhaps this is a chance to understand that love was the greatest commandment and that is the standard that we should be following instead of persistently criticizing the LGBTQ as though we are the morality police. We have for a long time failed to minister to a broken world, rarely showing compassion and care for those that are hurting in a world of hate.
Perhaps if you’re reading this as a Christian you seek to take a small action step, learning to listen to those that are different than you and not seek to instantly change those that are not like you. Seek to understand who they are as a person without labeling them and putting them in a particular group or categorize them as a person. Perhaps it’s time to love the world unconditionally.
If you’re reading this and you’re not a Christian and particularly those who are in the LGBTQ community, I beg you to forgive. Forgive us for not living up to the standard that we have ourselves set for the world. Forgive us for not carrying out the desire of Christ for us to love the world as He did. I beg you not to hate or ignore Christ because some Christians do a terrible job of representing Him.
Please allow this tragedy to have some good outcome that doesn’t hinge on us hijacking it for our personal political gain. Allow this horrific event become the catalyst for a much larger conversation, not debate, that allows us to come together not just as a country but as people loving people.