As more people died from gun violence this past week, more terror, shock, and disbelief set in. While many turn to thoughts and prayers, these feel meaningless and shallow because they propel few of us into transforming ourselves and our communities into places of inclusion and compassion.
While many also want more conversation, the conversations only succeed with those truly willing to: listen to and behold other people as Beloved Creations of God; check agendas, fears, judgments, and opinions at the door; and stay open to possibilities for long-term, universal gains, not what is most profitable, expedient, or convenient now.
If we hope to transcend the violence, political rhetoric, accusatory outbursts, finger-pointing, and name-calling, then we also must deepen our connections with people who, at first, seem different from us. We must decide whether deadly weapons, exclusive clubs, and closed gates, are more valuable than the sanctity of all human life. Not just some lives, in particular places, at certain times.
The truth is: No matter what others may do, we decide whether we’ll change the caliber of our own consciousness to pave peaceful paths. Each of us can do this, if we’re willing to push the edges of some comfort zones, step out further in faith, and rise in spiritual maturity.
If you’re ready for this journey, here are some steps you can take:
- As you pray, include those hurting from grief and loss, as well as those hurting from anger and outrage. Remember that our prayers don’t condone others’ behavior. Rather, they open our hearts to feel more compassion and free ourselves with forgiveness.
- If you support gun control legislation, also support those who advocate for mental health care reform and crisis management.
- Get involved with civic, ecumenical, and interfaith organizations dedicated to inclusivity, hospitality, and generosity which celebrate common ground and shared values among all people.
- Attend churches, synagogues, and mosques which provide opportunities for shared connections. Many hold gatherings for people of different faiths or ethnicities to break bread together, enjoy sacred conversations, and establish life-long friendships.
- If you live in a city/municipality which has signed the Charter for Compassion, support their activities and educational outreach. If not, seek ways to establish your hometown or company as a compassionate place of equity and inclusion.
- As much as you may be tempted, preserve your valuable energy and avoid heated arguments and drag-down debates with those who aren’t ready to connect with you and listen to your views.
- Focus on your own positions and what you wish to achieve, rather than attacking “the enemy.” Remember that spiritual masters are social activists, not re-activists, who strive to love, even when they don’t like others’ choices.
Above all, remember: God is in the midst of whatever is occurring within us and around us. Know that in every moment of our journey, we can choose — again — how we’ll express the Presence of God we are and how we’ll serve the best for all humanity.
© 2019 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.