It Is Hard Not To
It is hard not to feel sad in the world.
This morning I read of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada that took place last night. The description I read was of a lone gunman, perched high in a hotel overlooking an outdoor country music festival. He had many guns. Fifty people killed. Hundreds injured and taken to the hospital. One man, my age, laid on top of his kids — “I lived a good life. You have much in front of you.”
Sad is a euphemism. Shocked. Despair. Stunned. Traumatized. Paralyzed. Speechless.
It is hard not to feel angry in the world.
Anger is an accompaniment of sadness of this type. Anger goes with shock, despair, stunned, traumatized, paralyzed, and speechless. Who isn’t feeling fed up with the violence and the rhetoric of violence. And the bravado of violence. And sensationalism. It is so commonplace that a collective neural circuitry and psyche is being remade that will reside for generations. “War torn” is threading increasingly into the fabric of being human in this decade and century.
I’m not smart enough to know all of what to do. I’m grateful for the people who know more than me and who can respond to a very big picture. I’m grateful for those whose contribution is different than mine toward a common good. For me, when angry, I’ve always tried to find the step in front of me. Today, that is to be deliberate in not blocking the pain of the specific story nor of the broader pattern. It is to pause, to be quiet out side, to breathe, and to be still. It is to find with some deliberateness my own center, so that I can be helpful.
This violence is a phase. I hope this is true, the temporariness of “phase.” I feel lousy for even naming it that way, with such distance. I feel ripped apart inside when I think of those in Las Vegas and those in any of these similar acts. These are people being killed, not just numbers. With families. With partners. With stories.
One act of mass violence may never equal one act of simple local kindness, but it is this practice to stay in the now of local kind acts — without denying numbness and loss — that resets a foundation for reclaiming mass kindness. Love the ones in front of you in simple ways.
It is hard not to feel a desire for good. I’m trying to hold myself to that today, even when sad, angry, and pain. Please join me.