I sometimes wonder if we really believe one human life is worth more than another. Do we work hard to find reasons to evaluate certain persons or populations or groups as “not right” with God, with our political views, with our perspectives and opinions on civility and humanity? Another act of dramatic violence, 49 victims of crime and one perpetrator of crime, dead. That many and more are wounded, that many and more are survivors, yet wounded nonetheless. That many and more family and friends traumatized and grief-stricken. That many and more first responders and medical personnel moving into the situation to end the violence, triage the injured, and carry with them the pictures of the scene of chaos and violence, and the echoes of cell phones left unanswered.
A hate crime against Latino/a community. A hate crime against the LGBTQ community. A hate crime fueled by terrorism. A hate crime perpetrated by possession of an AR-15, now known as the “mass shooter’s weapon of choice.” A hate crime perpetrated by a husband and the father of a 3 year old. A hate crime perpetrated by a security officer who obtained his weapons legally. A hate crime perpetrated by a United States citizen born in New York.
Fear-stricken once again, we now try and decide how to pick out the evil from the good, to create a formula for prevention of a seemingly incurable virus. Surely someone has the right answer, a basic cure, an inoculation against hearts, souls, and minds besieged by a focus on active destruction. Then, often paralyzed by the increasing feeling that we ordinary folk have no power to stop a tidal wave, we put the incident away from us, in a different time and a different place and a different arena of life from our own so we can feel safe again.
Before we wander too far away in our shared sorrow, maybe we can decide some things over which we do have control. Maybe we can decide to be kind. Just. Kind. To one another, to the cashier, the custodian, and the caregiver. Maybe we can decide to be generous to the kid who carelessly wanders across our yard, to the grumpy neighbor, to the person with the chip on the shoulder who claims to be the victim of every bad thing that has ever happened. Maybe we can decide to love. To love one another, to love the merciful and the one who needs mercy, to love the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer/questioning and the heterosexual all in our midst. Maybe we can decide to be the church. Not the building but the living, breathing, community of grace. Just. Grace. Grace for the weary and the wise, the wondering and the wandering, the will-full and the woe-full and the less-than-full whose emptiness feels overwhelming.
Not a formula, or a cure, or an inoculation, but perhaps a way of living and engaging and embracing. A way to change the world, dare I say, toward God’s living vision for us and in us and through us.