Last night I dreamed I was trapped in a room with an active shooter. I pushed my children under a table and threw my body in front to cover the exposed side. I remember wondering if bullets could course through me and still hurt them.
Then -inexplicable dream scene change- I was rushing my kids through a back exit, gunshots ringing behind me. I dodged other panicked survivors and tried to hug the exterior wall for fear that running a direct path would make me an open target. A frantic quick head count came up one child short and I desperately scoured the chaos for my missing one.
Awake, my heart immediately broke for mothers in war zones. How often they must dream of trying to protect their children.
Then my heart broke again for the those who had something unjustly taken from them in Orlando this week. People who, in a matter of moments, lost their lives, loved ones, peace, security, and future years of sleep to be replaced with nightmares of running and hiding and death and fear.
I tried to shake off the nightmare’s lingering unease with strong coffee. I turned on the news and hoped it wouldn’t show me what I already knew it would.
Division. Two sides, two sides, two sides. Always the same two sides; toe to toe, fist to fist.
I’m pretty much over it.
I’m over hot or cold. I’m over yes or no. I’m over right or left.
I don’t buy it anymore. There’s more than a deathgrip between red and blue; more than some zero-sum, bruised and bloody game of capture the flag.
Why can’t we talk about any responses without demonizing the other side? Is there no way to start at the axis of “I don’t want my countrymen to die needlessly at the hands of a shooter?” and work from there?
The person across the aisle is not the actual enemy.
A far as I can tell, this is a fair assessment of what liberals want: MASS SHOOTINGS TO STOP.
As far as I can tell, this is a fair assessment of what conservatives want: MASS SHOOTINGS TO STOP.
And, once you get past the vocal minority of those two, there’s pretty much everyone else: people who don’t perfectly squeeze into one of those same two groups because they are a complex mix of interests, faiths, motivations, culture, heritage, and passions. And here’s my guess as to what they want: MASS SHOOTINGS TO STOP. (I hope you saw that coming because I really gave you a head’s up there.)
Here’s my highly scientific Venn diagram I didn’t just really poorly draw and then congratulate myself with a leftover school sticker:
I’m not (totally) naive. I read articles upon articles on the causes of these divisions and know the roots run deep.
But I am just saying this: let’s at least start with the assumption that the person across the aisle does NOT WANT TO PERSONALLY RUIN YOUR LIFE.
That maybe they even wish well for you, and for all Americans, and disagree on how to do it.
So please, when it’s up to you, take the hyperbole down a notch.
When it’s up to you, please pause and think about the words you speak and write and repost. Please remember you ultimately WISH WELL for your neighbor and country, in addition to yourself. Remember that it’s not just politicians and pundits who spread messages of division, but that everyone has someone listening to them.
When it’s up to you, please remember we are on the same team against terrorists and lone gunmen, the ones who are actually causing people to live the nightmare.
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And to my fellow Christ-followers:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 17 & 18 (emphasis added)