Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
I can’t comprehend it.
I can’t comprehend what happened in Connecticut. I can’t comprehend what happened in Oregon at the mall last weekend. I can’t comprehend how someone can take the lives of innocent people that they don’t even know.
Even as I try to wrap my mind around this, and even as the details are still very sparse at this point, I’m already seeing the move toward two reactions that naturally occur in times like these.
The first reaction online always seems to be where the conversation about gun control goes into overdrive again. On some levels, I can understand this. We’re all struggling to understand how something like this could happen, and if people didn’t have as easy access to guns as they do, the thought goes, things like this wouldn’t happen.
I honestly don’t have a solid position on gun control, as I can see valid points on both sides. But one point that I do agree with is that the solution to issues like this isn’t just tightening access to weapons. We have to get to the root–to the people who commit these awful atrocities.
Another natural reaction to a situation like this is to want to insulate ourselves. We want to grab our family and hole up in our homes. We want to stay away from shopping malls and to home school our kids. The thought on this side is that there are too many crazy and dangerous people out there, and if we just stay home, no one can hurt us.
But today, I want to advocate for a different reaction. Gun control isn’t what we need right now. Insulating ourselves isn’t what we need right now. What we need now is love, because there simply isn’t enough of it present in this world.
Instead of holing ourselves up inside of our homes, we need to come together on a grander scale. We need to regain that sense of community that has been lost in a world where it’s so easy–and many times preferred–to live individualistic lives. In our extreme individualism, we have lost our connections to one another, and our compassion seems to only rare its head in times of extreme distress.
We don’t know much about the shooter at this point, but it seems to me that in many cases like this, the attackers are people who were “quiet” and “kept to themselves.” Many times, as well, they are people who suffer from extreme mental illnesses (because seriously, how can someone in their “right” mind do something like this?).
We need to not just nod our heads at our neighbors. We need to get to know them, to love them and to care for them. We couldn’t stop all violence like this, but when someone is sick, perhaps we could help them get help. Perhaps we could spot warning signs earlier. Perhaps people wouldn’t feel so alone and like they have no other options.
Then again, perhaps nothing we do can prevent tragedies like this.
But what would change is that we would have a greater and deeper connection with the people around us. Truly loving our neighbors isn’t possible without being connected to them. And true compassion cannot thrive in a world devoid of love.