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Sometimes the only thing I know to do is write; even when the thoughts aren’t fully formed and even I don’t know what to say. I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago and one of my most favorite things about the city is how friendly and welcoming the people that live there are. Our Uber driver said it best, “most people that live here are nice, and most people that come here are too. They are here to have a good time.”
My heart- just like your heart- aches for the beautifully limitless lives that were lost, the people that were hurt, and for the grief that so many more people will now have to endure. Like you, I am overwhelmed with sadness for the fear these acts of violence continue to create, for our nation that feels increasingly divided. I share your anger, confusion, and desire to make a change.
While I recognize that I am on the periphery- that I cannot fully understand the depths of the people’s pain whose lives have been tragically affected- devastations like today remind me of how fragile our lives are and how precious our time here together is. What I know is that one person’s actions impact us all.
I don’t have any simple solutions or answers, I don’t even have words. I have tears, sadness, pain and confusion. But what I know is that:
It’s not enough to post prayers on social media.
It’s not enough to gossip about these horrific atrocities or share a news story.
It’s not enough to be outraged while sitting in the comfort of your home.
The only thing I know to do in my tiny corner of the world is to be good to people. To hold the door open for strangers, to ask someone how their day is, to give someone the benefit of the doubt. To not allow small frustrations or misunderstandings to take over the limited time I have with the people I dearly love. The only thing I know is to ask questions, to engage with my community through advocacy, service, and voting.
I don’t want to say it simply, nor do I intend to offer a simplistic perspective on a very complex and multilayered issue, but I always mean it when I say ‘be kind. offer love.’
And what I mean is do it when it’s hard. When it’s uncomfortable, when you’re challenged and have to rise to the occasion. We can do more than offer kindness out of a place of convenience, self-service, or to post about on social media. Perhaps when you see a person without a home on the street and your first instinct is to look away, maybe you make eye contact and nod or smile instead. Maybe you interject when you hear someone ‘jokingly’ make an offensive and racist remark, or you might gently challenge your family member’s outdated understanding on issues taking place today. Maybe you attempt to learn and understand why people are kneeling and commit to standing beside them. Kindness means acknowledging another person’s humanity, respectfully addressing other people’s behaviors, and empathically trying to understand the other side of every story.
What I know is that we don’t need to further separate from one another, we need bridges and common ground. We need united conversations so that even when we have differing perspectives, we can still stand next to one another, holding each other’s hand. We must learn to express our emotions and disagreements in a healthy way, to dialogue about challenging topics while maintaining respect for the person that stands in front of us. We need to have solution-focused conversations about healthcare, politics, gun control, social inequalities, and racism but we must first learn to do so without becoming hurtful or more divided.
We all want to be safe. We all want to live full lives.
We all want to be able to go to a concert with the ones we love and dance the night away.
And when things like today happen, don’t run away from the world, engage with it. Change it.