The mass murder in Orlando this past weekend created a ripple effect of its horror upon the LGBTQ community and their families, as well as upon the rest of us who, if not related to the victims, look on in shocked fear at how easily and quickly such a tragedy of huge proportions can occur, even when red flags were raised in the right places.
At the same time that we are mourning the loss of American lives, we must look too at the international epidemic of violence and hatred and fear that threatens to rip the world apart at its seams.
Thus, we absolutely cannot overlook the atrocities of even greater proportions in other countries around the world where the numbers of lives lost is even more staggering. Just because we do not personally know the faces or names or lives of those who are victimized or killed in the name of fear or violence or hatred, it does not make those lives any less important than those lost on American soil.
It means that the task at hand is even more vital and more extensive than we think.
And each of us in every corner of the world MUST take part in speaking out.
We cannot create controversy where there is nothing of important proportions. We cannot exaggerate the minutia of life, whether for dramatic effect or for legal implications.
Doing so is like becoming Peter crying “Wolf!” when there is no wolf in sight and alarming his family when there is no danger to their flock of sheep. When eventually the wolf does arrive, Peter’s urgent and real warning call to his family brings no one to help him as they have become tired and annoyed at his tricks, thus leaving the wolf to prey upon the defenseless sheep.
We cannot strip away the validity of the voices that absolutely must speak out against or who speak up for those individuals who truly need help, because they know the real danger that lurks beneath the surface of people with truly dangerous intentions.
We cannot ignore or put off the warning signs that signal an eruption of volcanic anger and wrath that turns against the people who are closest to the abuser, because these are indications of what can be done in greater proportions against others who have less significance or value to the abuser.
We cannot pretend that the halfhearted efforts are actually working well to stem the underground and internal flow of rage or violence that exists in some with mental illness or as side effects of some psychologically-altering medications, because clearly even the most diligent of work and workers are not strong enough alone.
We cannot hide in the darkness, fearful of more attacks and violence, fueling the attackers’ needs for power and control over something, anything in their lives, because then we become enablers of terror and fund-ers of abuse.
We must love those who are mentally ill, especially when loving them means getting them necessary and vital help, for their good and for the good of us all.
We must love those who are abusive, especially when loving them means setting boundaries against their beatings and holding them accountable to the law for their violence.
We must love those who are affected by those with mental illness, especially when they find the utter willpower and sheer strength to put words to what is wrong with their loved ones and to seek help for them.
We must love those who are abused, especially when they need to be heard with clarity and wisdom and warning that can prevent future tragedies of any proportion from occurring.
We must love those who are working with the mentally ill, especially when they see and know the dangers too well but have little power to make real and effective change without the helpful support of a system that has failed.
We must love those who are working with the abusive, especially when they cry out a need for both useful and greater help than they receive from broken and messy laws and a confused legal system.
We must love those who are making policies about mental illness and abuse, especially when every mental illness, every person with mental illness, and every abuser functions differently and there is no broad, over-arching policy that could possibly cover every individual’s needs appropriately.
We must love those who are enforcing policies on the ground with those whose violence and anger breaks the thin skin of peace in our world, especially when they need the support and understanding of those who are not on the front lines but whose lives are being protected and served.
We must love, even when love means getting help to protect yourself or someone else.
We must love, even when love is finding the courage to speak out.
We must love, even when love means being the help for someone who desperately needs it.
We must love, even when love is hearing the cries for help.
We must love, even when love means being the hands and feet that push ahead to make a difference.
We must love, even when love is overwhelmingly difficult and seemingly impossible.
We must love, even when love must start only in you.
We must love because hiding in fear does nothing helpful.
We must love because reacting in anger is no different than acting in anger.
We must love because not loving in the right ways is not enough.
We must love because not loving enough is not enough.
To go back… Part 2 – the crisis that lurks within
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:43-48 The Message)