You know that feeling behind your eyes, the tightness, the stretching. A heaviness sitting between your ribs, preventing you from really getting a good breath. That’s what Wednesday did to me. Another domestic terrorist let loose his hatred and murdered according to his own twisted racist agenda.
I haven’t even been blogging for two years and yet this isn’t my first post about brutal carnage.
How can I find the middle ground between self-protective ignorance and the psychic disintegration of information overwhelm?
Within twenty-four hours of the shootings, relatives of the dead offered forgiveness to the killer. Unbelievable. I would not possess that level of grace. When I test the waters of empathy, trying to understand what the families might be experiencing, all I feel is fear and hatred, hatred of a man who would choose to annihilate.
The relatives asked the terrorist to repent.
Strip aside all religion for a moment and imagine mass cultural repentance. Our culture shaped this man whose name I want to forget. But he made the choice to kill. Let’s dump our freedom of speech, right to carry arms, freedom of the press, and stand your ground rhetoric into the vat of chaos that is the United States and admit that WE NEED HELP.
Let me strive to be patient. Let my default be compassion. Help me listen to those whose voices have been silenced.
A former patient’s son was brutally murdered many years ago. The man who killed him went to prison, maybe for life. The dead man’s mother, my patient, wrote letters to the prisoner every week. She talked about the weather, about putting in her garden, about her grandson. At first I thought she was trying to torment the killer, keeping his crime right there in his face. She wasn’t. She offered forgiveness. She offered him his humanity.
For years she wrote to him, never hearing a response. The seasons changed. They lost a huge tree out in the back yard. She had her knee replaced. The grandson grew to be a man. She kept sending her letters out into the void, to the man who killed her son.
And finally one day, he wrote back.
Embrace your humanity. Accept forgiveness. Teach love. Be better.