This week I turned on the news and was surprised – and saddened – to see coverage of yet another school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children, two adults and the shooter were dead. The shooter was a suffering 18 year old who had just failed to graduate from high school, his angry calls for help and love not recognized for their level of desperation. The assault rifle and pistol were purchased legally in a country that chooses to live in fear and defend itself with millions of firearms rather than deal with the true ills of our social framework.
I sat stunned. Sadness and grief washed over me. I recalled the first time that I felt such sadness over a school shooting. Columbine is a newer High School near the high school I attended outside of Denver, Colorado. Some of my high school classmates had children at Columbine, and the pain and suffering of the surviving families felt close at hand. This wasn’t some distant event happening elsewhere in the world that didn’t impact me. No, the Columbine high school massacre cut deep into my own soul. My heart was broken.
And it happens again each time we hear about another shooting: Sandy Hook Elementary, Parkland High School, a Buffalo supermarket, Uvalde and many more. According to NPR, there have been 212 mass shootings where four or more people were shot in the United States so far in 2022. 27 of those shootings have been at schools. The Pew Research Center reported that of the 45,222 gun-related deaths in 2020, 54% were suicides and 43% were murders. Only 611, or less than 2%, of those 2020 gun-related deaths were part of mass shootings according to Gun Violence Action. We are saddened and grieve for the souls lost in Uvalde, but what about all the other lives cut short by gun violence – and through war in Ukraine and elsewhere on our planet?
It is easy to shut off the deep sadness and grief, our low tide of emotions, and lock them in with a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and depression. The current mental health epidemic among young people reveals the pervasiveness of those feelings. How do we find our way to the high tide of hope again? It begins by allowing the wave of our emotions to wash over us and pass. Allow Divine love and compassion for ourselves and others to fill our hearts and comfort our hurting souls. Love is the soothing and healing balm. And then, when we have found ourselves on dry land again, we can choose to follow Spirit’s call to be a presence for love and healing. Together we can make a stand for a world fueled by love and compassion rather than hate and fear.
Love and light,