Community Terrorist vs Eternal Optimist vs Gamechangers

Wow, it’s during times like these that all I can do to cope and maintain some level of “normalcy” is just pray.

Reading about these recent events, what happened in our own City on Saturday night (Edmonton), then the mass shooting in Vegas is just DEVASTATING….and so friggin overwhelming. My heart breaks for the innocent officers and bystanders involved. WHY? HOW COULD SOMEONE? Are but just a couple of the answerable questions I’m struggling with.  This all feels super heavy and impossible.

I keep hearing messaging about unity around these events, about being kind and compassionate to one another during times of adversity…yes, you’re right, let’s stay united, let’s focus on unity.

Hmmm, one thing that has really stayed with me around the Edmonton incident is how did the initial reporting of the accused’s race prove relevant?  Did disclosing that stand alone marker about his ethnicity promote unity? Did his cultural background somehow provide some insight or remarkable (factual) context to the situation? I don’t see how? (other than the many assumptions and judgements people probably would have broad stroke generalized given this current climate of confusion, tension and fear).  And sure, fair enough, I’m not a journalist, nor am I an investigator, so I don’t really have the authority to criticize.  For all I know, this information is evidentiary and valuable. It’s just that, on a humanistic sort of gut  level, I didn’t get it and still quite don’t. How can we promote unity when in the very manner we first receive the information, there is already division, separation – them vs us – “that group” – “those people” – implied in the messaging? (caveat: or so I’ve received it)

Language is important.

On a very base level, we either create unity, or we create division. On a very base level, we either spread love or we spread hate. Foundationally, we either live from a place of fear, or we live from a place of hope.  And everything that flows from where we start – our words, our language, our actions, our choices, our interactions, our posts…are all going to have some ripple effect in some way towards some greater end.  Which end is what we should all ask ourselves; which way are we wanting to go? Where are we trying to point? What are we trying to spread? How are we making people think and feel?

Never mind big acts of terrorism, mass shootings and global events (which seem impossible and so far gone to fix) – can we just start with some accountability in our own lives, in our own families, in our own communities and our own networks?

I get it, we are all entitled to our own opinions, judgements, perceptions and feelings. I can’t tell you what to feel – I’m not you – I don’t know what you’ve gone through, in the way that you’ve gone through stuff to judge how you feel about certain things. Fair enough.  But we’ve all gone through stuff.  We all mitigate through the outcomes of our own experiences; and all of the feelings, judgments and perceptions we create and wrestle with trying to assimilate our experiences into our repertoires of life.

But having said that, at the end of the day, regardless of what I’ve been through; do my opinions, judgments, perceptions and feelings preclude me from relating to another human being on just a human being level?  That’s the weirdness when people alienate, isolate or relegate other people – on some level, WE ARE ALL PEOPLE.  So I ask myself, despite what I am feeling, going through or wrestling with, am I being a good human being at the end of the day that is spreading more love – or am I creating more division in my sphere of influence?  What about those directly within my hands reach?  Are they feeling loved, respected and accepted?  Or are they not?  Can I say that whoever came into contact with me today whether that be via text, in person or online, left feeling lighter, happier or better? Is neutral, indifferent or nothing good enough anymore?  God willing the answer isn’t worse!

It’s easy to sit in the privacy of our own homes, behind our phones and spew criticisms of gun laws, immigration control, leaders responses etc….and sure, maybe some of these contribute to the problem…but if we were all to turn that scrutiny inwards and look at our own selves and our own spheres of influence, what are we personally creating or contributing to?  If it’s not unity and love, then how can we deny that in some way, we are part of the problem too?

People should be greater than principles.  Love should be easiest to spread. Forgiveness should diffuse our judgments and communication should lessen the gaps of misunderstanding.  People who spread love are game changers. That’s what we need more of – not opinions, not differences, not reasons to be more afraid and more things to be wary of, not more defending or criticisms – we need more people able to change the state of our current situation by just being better….better communicators, better menders, better “understanderers”, better “hopers”….better partners, better siblings, better friends, better teachers, better parents, better bosses, better colleagues, better Church members, better neighbours…just better.

That is the kind of mark I want to leave – the afterthought I want to be,  the smile on someone’s face or the reason for their sigh of relief….I want to contribute to the reason someone else favored kindness over division – Maybe that’s where unity starts, at just a person choosing to be better. Now that’s something I can manage… it’s a much simpler concept than trying to change the world…but maybe the eternal optimist in me wants to believe that it could be enough. <3



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