Changing the Way

Good morning!

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, while many of us were sleeping safely in our beds, a young man, fuelled by fear and hatred walked into a bar in Orlando Florida killing 49 and injuring 53. The media has named this the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Since 2012 there have been 998 of these mass shootings in the US alone and there have been countless others across the world. In our own country we have seen a number of these over the years and each time communities are devastated and lives are needlessly ended. Each time people scramble to figure out the blame. In recent years that blame has often been laid at the feet of some terrorist organization. Sometimes we blame mental ill-health; sometimes it is seen as vengeance. In all cases these acts are, in fact, a result of fear and hatred. Fear of another way of life; fear of differences; fear of loss of power and that fear leads to hatred toward people of different orientations; people of different nationalities, cultures or tribes. The blame, I believe, lies clearly at the feet of humanity! We have created a society that allows hatred to take root, that pits one person against another and one belief system against another; that celebrates wealth in the hands of the few; that deprives people of dignity and respect; that celebrates violence and perpetuates fear.

Kahlil Gibran writes:

“Oftentimes I have heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all”

We know the answer to this state of being that we find ourselves in. There have been countless voices throughout the ages who have called us to a better way and yet their voices go unheeded and the violence in our world continues to grow.

• Peace is a daily, weekly, monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding barriers, quietly building new structures ~ John F Kennedy

• Peace cannot be kept by force it can only be achieved by understanding ~ Albert Einstein

• Fear is the path that leads to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering ~ Yoda

• Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have and all that we are toward creating a world that supports everyone but it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are ~ Hafsat Abiola

• If you want to end war then instead of sending guns, send books; instead of sending tanks send pens; instead of sending soldiers send teachers ~ Malala Yosafsi

As those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus we are continually reminded that the world that God intended is founded on justice, peace, compassion, forgiveness and love. Jesus demonstrated this in the words he used and in the way he lived. He did not back down from power but confronted the injustices of society and provided the blueprint for a better way. The massacre on Sunday could have been avoided, just like all the other needless endings of human life if only we could replace hatred with love, fear with acceptance, anger with forgiveness, and indifference with engagement.

It has taken thousands of years for us to build this society and create the conditions necessary for hatred to be the guiding rule, let us hope and pray that we can undo it in far less time. We can begin this process by looking at ourselves and changing the way that we contribute to the ongoing culture of fear and hatred. I end with these words again from Kahlil Gibran “The cornerstone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.” May it be so.

Blessings
Valerie

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