Sunday, December 16, 2012
If you’re feeling helpless, help someone. –Aung San Suu Kyi
I was still hurting over the shooting in the mall here in Portland when I heard the heart rending news of the shooting in Connecticut. And the stabbing of so many children in China. I just sat down and cried. So many people who are in such pain and so full of rage, so alienated and hopeless, so lost in their minds and their souls. They cry out in violence, cutting down innocent children and adults.
There is no sense to make of this. How do we respond? In fear? I read that gun sales are way up. One legislator proposed arming teachers. Would I want my child sitting in first grade with a teacher who is packing heat? Are we moving towards a society in which we pocket our cell phone, pick up our keys, and strap on our weapon as we leave the house to run to the grocery store or drive the car pool to soccer practice?
Do we really think that arming everyone will stop violence? Buddha taught that “hatred never ceases by hatred, but my love alone is healed.” Hate is born of fear. And fear is born of a mistaken belief that we are separate from each other. But we are not. And that simple truth is where any healing begins.
Yet what can I do? I remembered the above quotation this morning. Helpless. Yes, that is what I feel in the face of such random, unimaginable killing. Helpless to protect my children and grandchildren. Helpless to protect any children, for all children are my children. And yours. Yes, I’m feeling helpless. Are you?
Aung San Suu Kyi counsels us, then, to help someone. What can we do? If this violence is perpetrated by people who feel so dissociated from their humanity, perhaps the response is to affirm our shared humanity.
Years ago, a phone company introduced an ad campaign with the slogan, “Reach out and touch someone.” Touch. An affirmation that we exist, that we are connected. So what if we all touched someone? Call an estranged friend. Visit a homebound senior. Thank a first responder. Praise a child. Write a thank you note to a teacher. Help a neighbor. Shake the hand of a veteran. Smile at a stranger. Listen to someone.
We are not helpless. We need not fear. We have the only thing that will ever counter violence. Open hearts.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are mine
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you
When you walk through fire you will not be burned
And the flame will not consume you.
related post: From the Ashes; Calling for Love