I sit in my bedroom looking out on the beautiful lake just beyond our seawall. There's a breeze blowing, not a cool one, but at least the air is stirring. Flowers bloom, ducks paddle by, and birds light on my patio screen peeping in at me. Inside my heart is breaking at the news of yet another senseless act of violence.
I remember well when the word murder was spoken so seldom that I was startled when I heard it. Now it's not just one or two but 32, 49, 27 people. Crazy numbers created by crazy people and shoved down the throats of those of us who abhor hate and violence in all forms. People are killed because they are gay, or black, or wearing a blue uniform, or are too old to defend themselves, or are too young to know they should be at home in their beds, or because they are children sitting in a classroom or because they were in a mall at the wrong time.
And the violence isn't just physical, but verbal as well. We hurl accusations at people because someone's speech writer didn't give credit to someone else's speech writer for words that have been spoken or thought by thousands of Americans before them, or maybe it's because their designer coat cost more than my first house and the opposition's dress cost less than my weekly grocery bill (and maybe we're just jealous because we don't have that beautiful coat or dress!), or because someone's e-mail was leaked as if any e-mail is ever safe from prying eyes. The f word is used like it's everyday common language and it sickens my soul. We hate each other, or act as if we do, because our political views are not the same, or our forefathers committed acts of atrocity that we never had a part in, or we grew up thinking one sin was worse than other sins, and other people's sins were somehow worse than our own.
When will we ever learn that love is the only answer to a world full of hurting people? Can't I love you and you love me and can't we live in peace raising our children to do the same? Can't you worship in your own way and even though I don't understand, can't I respect it and you? And can't you do the same for me? Can't we teach our children to respect all people, no matter their annual income or their gender or marital status or their religion or their address or their skin color or what kind of uniform they wear?
Recently my husband and I traveled through Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. We've been to England and Ireland and Israel and Mexico and Canada. And you know what? Every country we've been in is filled with people just like me. And just like you. Men and women and children getting up in the morning, eating breakfast (and some not having breakfast to eat), going to work and school, kissing their children and hugging their wives or husbands, patting their grandmother's head, living their lives. Just like me. All of those countries...full of people, just like me.
I know, I know....there are sick people out there who commit unholy acts. But those unholy acts start small. They start when another kid in class bullies them, or when they aren't chosen for a job because of the color of their skin or because they couldn't afford to dress well for an interview, or when they're excluded from the "in crowd" or people who profess to love their neighbors look right through them and see only their "sin." They start when their parents tell them they don't have to respect the principal or the teacher or the policeman.
I don't care if you are Democrat or Republican, but honestly I wish I didn't know which of those sides you were on. I don't care if you are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or no religion at all, but I wish I could only know that by your actions, and I wish that all of those beliefs resulted in the same kind of actions....loving your neighbor. I don't care if you are black, hispanic, asian, or caucasian. I don't care if you are gay or straight or something else entirely. My faith tells me that God made you in His image and you are, therefore, beautiful. I will try always to treat you that way and if I don't then you have my permission and my encouragement to call me on it.