Community//

Incited

Response in the Wake of Tragedy

In the early hours of the morning, with my mind traveling somewhere along the yellow center line separating sleep and consciousness, I found myself praying, tears staining my warm cheeks. It was as if I had reached a dead end without realizing that I had been traveling at all. My heart was heavy, my mouth wordless, my hands helpless.

As I lay still safely tucked in my bed, far away from the grief-filled streets of Las Vegas, Nevada, I was torn between guilt and sorrow.

Guilt for finding solace in my little world. A world uninterrupted by the senseless hate that abruptly interrupted their worlds this week.

Sorrow for those that I do not know. The souls that I have never loved, the voices that I have never heard, the hands that I have never held. The faces I had never seen, of coworkers, friends, mothers, fathers, grandparents, spouses, children, veterans, graduates, dreamers, believers, neighbors. Americans.

Ifyou’re like me, you awoke this morning asking yourself how we find ourselves here, in the wake of yet another senseless tragedy. If I were to guess, you feel angry that someone can so easily dispose of valuable lives. You feel dread, asking yourself what future lays within the walls of this great nation. You feel frustration, miles away from those grieving in Nevada and powerless in the search for justice.

It’s as if hate and fear ebb and flow, in and out of every political discussion, daily conversation, and news story, penetrating our lives. It is palpable. You can taste it. You can feel it. I can taste it. I can feel it.

Naturally, I wish to purge myself from this hell that the devil himself has surely created.

I scroll quickly over articles about the shooting, hesitant to let the fear, the grief, and the anger seep in. I find myself longing to retreat to the bed in which I awoke, tears in my eyes, safety surrounding me. It’s as if I have found myself in a sadistically-twisted version of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, hiding from he-who-shall-not-be-named. Yet, I can’t help but wish to encounter Lord Voldemort far before I ever encounter a monster like the one who wrought terror upon those innocent concert-goers.

Asthese emotions flood in, bursting forth and pervading our daily lives, it is tempting to let them win. Yet, if we let them taint our view of humanity and alter our ability to love, embrace, trust, protect, and endure, then we are doing a great disservice to those lives lost in Las Vegas.

To those lives lost in Orlando.

At Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.

If we let fear win, then the monsters too have won.

Spoiler-alert — Lord Voldemort doesn’t win.

Ibelieve that we were each set on this planet with a particular purpose, laid out and waiting for us. Victory to you may not look like victory to me.

Perhaps you are a school teacher, able to teach the younger generations about love, tolerance, and unity. Perhaps you are an activist, advocating for change in our legislature and our courts. Perhaps you are a corporate leader, able to improve someone’s day by showing them equality and compassion in your workplace. Perhaps you are a student, with the ability to positively influence the culture on your campus. Perhaps you are the media, able to shine a light on indiscretions of our society, calling attention to areas that still need restructuring and change. No matter who you are or where you are, it is certainly true that we are helpful, purposeful, and capable.

Heroism looks different to you than it does to me…different to your neighbor than it does to my neighbor. Yet, I would bet that we can all agree that we need a little more of it each day.

A little more love. A little more bravery. A little more change.

So, in the wake of the hate, the despair, the outrage, and the mourning, it is imperative that we crawl out of the safety of our beds each morning, eager to rid our communities of the monster that is hatred.

Love harder, speak louder, and work harder, creating change in a way that only you can.

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