The Blog

A Reflection on Mass Violence

Humans tend to be very resilient and compassionate in the darkest of hours. Mass tragedies reveal the worst and the best that humans contain.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Is it "evil" that makes someone react in a violent way? Or is it a pain, so deep, that few of us can possibly imagine?

Hurt people hurt. They hurt themselves, they hurt others, and often both. Pointing fingers and blaming politics, guns, evil, and morality does nothing to address the root causes of pain.

All of us have the capacity to love and hurt, create and destroy, laugh and cry. In moments of reflecting on mass tragedy we may ask ourselves:"How can something like this happen?" When really the better question may be: "What is it in me that prevents me from doing this?"

It's way beyond your religious faith and moral upbringing. We can all look at mass killing and point fingers at who should have been doing what to prevent such a tragedy. However, the better directed conversation starts with:

"What is my part in all this?
What could I do differently?
How do I turn my back on those who are hurting?
How do I judge others?
How do I create pain?
How am I hurting?
And what do we all need to heal that hurt?"

I believe we are all One. In such belief, I am the shooter. I am the person fighting for their life. I am the dead sibling. I am the first responder. I am the doctor who has to deliver the bad news to a family. I am the reporter who chooses sensationalism as an opportunity to further a career. I am the young man who cries out, "Enough!" on Facebook and tries to get his friends to see the insanity of it all. I am the person who will help someone try to make sense of it and find a way to keep living. I am the yoga teacher who will chant, "Om shanti, shanti, shanti Om" (Creation, peace, peace, peace, creation).

When willing to walk into the shadows that create violence, to be with the pain within ourselves and others, to take accountability and responsibility for our own part in the equation of life, the questions evolve to:

Who am I?
What will I do now?
Will I create or destroy?
Will I embrace both the shadow and light of this tragedy or will I divide and conquer just to be "right"?

A wise mentor once shared that the best teachers do not answer your questions, they merely direct you to discovering better questions. In reflecting on yet another tragedy, I am left with nothing but questions and a willingness to see myself in all. It is a dark space to enter, though I know that somewhere in that darkness there are sparks of light that will guide and illuminate. Humans tend to be very resilient and compassionate in the darkest of hours. Mass tragedies reveal the worst and the best that humans contain. Yet, I wonder:

What will it take for us all to try to understand why someone vastly different from us believes what they believe without trying to change their opinion?

What will it take for us to open our hearts to the pain we are feeling without trying to numb it or ignore it, rather to use it as a guidepost for healing?

What will it take to step up and create community, care about our neighbors, reach out to friends in need, reach out to strangers?

What will it take to see our lives aren't all that bad and build on the good rather than dwell on the disappointments and difficulty?

How many more killing sprees do we need to endure?

What will it take for us to wake up?

Popular in the Community