A movie theater, a school, a church. We go to each of these places to help us with the harsh realities of life. We go to the movies to escape from them (if only for a couple of hours), we send our children to school so that they can learn the skills needed to deal with them, and we go to church to ask God to help us overcome them. All of these places are meant to be sanctuaries, safe places for us to go when we need to escape, to learn, and to pray. And over the last few years, all three of those sanctuaries have been violated.
In July of 2012, a gunman opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado- killing 12, injuring 70 others and wounding our entire nation. In December of that same year, a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut- killing 20 children and 6 staff members and devastating the rest of us. Then just this week, on June 17, a gunman opened fire in a church in Charleston, South Carolina killing 9 people. I’m still trying to figure out what he has done to the rest of us. I think that we are all still trying to figure that out.
We will point fingers, and assign blame. We will speculate as to why, and try to find a reason for it all. It will dominate our lives for a few days, and maybe even a few weeks. But then, as time passes and life goes on, we will let if fade into the past (like so many other times before). In the past it will stay; until it happens again… and again… and again.
And again and again and again, we will point fingers and assign blame. Again and again and again, we will speculate as to why and try to find a reason for it all. And again and again and again, we will fail. We will fail because we are all to blame. We will fail because we should be pointing our fingers at ourselves. We will fail because we know why it happens and we know what the reason for it all is.
We will fail because it is our fault. We allow these tragedies to happen every time that we choose hate over love. We allow these horrors to occur every time we chose fear over hope. We allow ourselves to be terrorized every time we chose dark over light, condemnation over forgiveness, anger over kindness.
We are not able to control what others do. But we are able to control how we respond to what others do. And I believe that every time we respond to hate with love, every time we respond to fear with hope, every time we respond to darkness with light, to condemnation with forgiveness, and to anger with kindness; every time we do that, we make it harder for others to choose to be angry, to choose to condemn, to choose to dwell in darkness, to choose to be afraid, to choose to hate.
And that is all we can do. So on this day, I am going to choose love, I am going to choose hope, I am going to choose light, I am going to choose forgiveness, I am going to choose kindness. Again… and again… and again. And I hope and pray that others will join me, again… and again… and again. Until all the world chooses love and hope and light and forgiveness and kindness. Again…and again…and again.