I venture to say most of you have heard about the tragic massacre in San Bernardino that occurred last week.
I am pretty gutted by this one, especially because I have to refer to it as “this one,” to distinguish it from so many other mass shootings that have occurred in the United States.
I live in San Bernardino. My house is not far from where the shooting occurred. It has not hit too close to home. It has hit home. It felt so surreal to see my city all over news outlets, with familiar streets and sites.
The sadness and outrage I feel in no way compares to that of friends and families of the victims, the injured and those who were present, in fear of their own lives.
I cannot believe this happened again, but, of course I can, it’s an issue that is still not being addressed. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that it happened in my city, but why should we be exempt? UGH. I HATE (and I do not use that word freely) how common this has become. I HATE that it has hurt my community. I HATE that more families are hurting, scared and shaken.
I do not want to rant about my personal political views, desires for policy change, speculation for motives or personal feelings about implications and aftermath. There is enough of that going around and I feel drained.
What I need to process through in this space and maybe along with you, is HURT and HEALING. When I feel like my head will explode if I ask myself one more “WHY?” question, I have to look back on my own personal experiences of hurt and healing for support.
These tragedies of course strike up personal chords. I can empathize with what it feels like to lose someone to gun violence. Certainly not in this magnitude, and I will not pretend to understand the pain of these loved ones, but I I can sympathize somewhat. A violent loss is different from other loses. I still deal with the loss of my father to gun violence and crime. I still enter court rooms and sit feet away from the accused. There was fear, anger, nightmares and profound sadness that followed and emotions that I still, and always will, encounter.
At the simplest level, I think it comes down to “hurt people hurt people.” This phrase has helped me not hate. This phrase has helped me let go of valid anger. This phrase helped me not be scared anymore. Most importantly, this phrase helps me be mindful of the way I treat each and every entity on this planet.
I know I am an idealist. I know I have far-out-head-in-the-clouds-hippie ideals, with bleeding heart liberal values and can be too idealistic. But maybe, if we all treated one another a bit kinder, or at the very least, not go out of our way to hurt one another, well, maybe we would stop giving others the motivation to want to hurt us.
I am not saying the shooters did this because someone called them names. But, I cannot help but wonder what level of hurt they experienced in their own lives, to motivate them to so viciously hurt others.
If I had it my way, everyone would have enough to eat and their food would be affordable without additives, preservatives or dyes. Every animal would have a peaceful, happy life and every child that wanted a puppy would get one. Everyone would do yoga and practice preventative medicine. No one would liter. We would all have open and peaceful communication and solve our issues through conflict management practices. No one would own or need a gun. Hunting would be thought of as a past barbaric practice and protection would be unnecessary because no one would not want to hurt each other.
I know this will never happen, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder…
At the very least, can we just stop being so mean to each other? Can we not go out of our way to say an unnecessary comment, post a spiteful reply, give a dirty look or let our FEAR take over?
I feel that fear is the true motivating force behind those types of mean behaviors and I feel that it is running completely rampant right now. I sure do not blame anyone for feeling fearful, but it bums me out to see how pervasive and dangerous it is becoming.
Can we make the conscious effort to not be afraid?
It’s hard. Really hard.
My dad was shot and killed in March of 2012. An arrest was not made until July 2012. The first fews weeks, I was fearfully obsessed that “the shooter was out there.”
I remember suspiciously looking at people. I remember creating stereotypes in mind of who this person must be that pulled that trigger and when I saw someone that fit that description, I would look them in the eye and think, “was it you?” I remember feeling my intestines quiver. I remember constantly feeling anxious and fearful. I had a hard time sleeping and woke up multiple times per night from nightmares.
Somewhere in my grieving brain, logic kicked in and said, “you have to stop!” I accredited this to my yoga and the awareness that I had been starting to practice on my mat.
It had to be an extremely conscious decision to not be afraid anymore. I had to take deep breaths when I went out in public and be completely at peace with the knowledge that the person who killed my dad was somewhere free. I had to separate the justice and legal process from my healing process and VERY consciously re-focus on my health, sleep and heart.
Can we all make that commitment to consciously practice awareness of our fear? Can we try not to stereotype, blame, argue and fight? Can we agree that maybe we disagree about many things, but be OK with not changing minds and proving ourselves “right”?
Can we just for a moment, stop pushing our personal agendas and speculations and just support one another? Seriously, can we just give one another a hug? We really need it.
I have been listening to this song. MJ has comforted me through many times and helped me make sense of some pretty trying situations. I know it seems like a childish notion to simply be nice and loving, but maybe that simplicity is what we need to return to. Be nice. Treat others how they want to be treated. Be OK with being wrong. Don’t let fear win.
I wish I had better answers. I wish I knew what to do to stop the hurt. But maybe, can we start with healing and letting go of fear?
There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place…