Words cannot describe our reactions to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut Friday. And no words will ever be enough to comfort those who have lost loved ones. At this moment, and for the many to follow, the best we can do for those in need is be there for them. After a tragedy strikes our initial reaction is a desire to have the right words to make it all okay again. Sometimes we appreciate the sentiment, sometimes it offends us, and sometimes we'd rather just have silence and a hug. Everyone deals with these things differently. It's impossible to predict anything here, where comfort ends and heartbreak begins, but it is always vividly clear to me that no matter the instance there is always one thing we can do to let the suffering know that they are not alone in their darkest hour.
Now can we talk about love?
On all social media platforms there was an immediate and resounding demand to discuss gun control. I can't count the amount of posts I saw within minutes of learning of the news that said, "Now can we talk about gun control?"
No. We can't. Not, at least, just seconds after the lives of twenty children and six adults have been lost. To be honest, for a little while, I don't want to hear to word "gun". I don't want to hear or talk about politics, policies, or Religion. I just want to keep quiet for a moment and show those around me how much I love them. After something as terrifying as this, I don't want to talk about anything.
Yet in the days that follow, the conversation is inevitable. Now, the Monday after, can we talk about gun control? Sure. It's not like we can stop you. And it may be an important issue. But why, in the initial moments of what seems like the end of the world, is our first thought to discuss weapons? I saw a lot of people beautiful things, say a prayer or a good word, trying to help those of us who didn't know how to deal. I saw a lot of arguments about whether or not God existed, how he could allow a tragedy such a this, how if he weren't taken out of school maybe this wouldn't have happened, the copious posts about gun control, and then Sunday night, when the President's remarks interrupted a football game, I saw an astounding number of racial slurs, swear words, and bigotry demanding that the President stop interrupting their game because, God damn it, they wanted to watch some football.
Well, football can wait. Talk of gun control can wait. Arguments about the existence of God can wait. But we cannot, then, now, nor ever wait to love. Love mustn't wait. But it is clear to me that it often does. People are more inclined to erupt into an argument about trivialities than they are to say nothing for a moment and simply show someone that they are loved.
The time to discuss gun control, science, and God will arrive. Give it time. It is inevitable. But is that time mere moments after such a substantial loss of life? I saw a lot of love that day. This isn't an accusation on my part to the rest of the world for being callous. It's a statement to suggest that maybe we're in need of some conditioning. Imagine a world where love reigns supreme? True unconditional love that erupts when the world is in need. That instead of hoping to talk about guns, God, and football, we say nothing at all and let our actions speak for themselves. Is that such an outrageous idea? How selfish are we that the first thing coming to mind is beginning a dialogue or diatribe about the issues we think should be discussed. Maybe you don't have all the answers. Maybe it isn't time to talk about gun control. Maybe it isn't time to talk about what you think we should talk about. Maybe, for once, this isn't about you.
In moments such as these, the only thing we can do to effectively help the suffering is to completely let go of ourselves. Everyone deals with tragedy in their own way and that's okay. It's okay to try to have the magic words because our heart breaks for the brokenhearted, but the most important thing is, no matter what you do or say, if it comes from a place of love it will never lead you astray. Let love speak for itself and speak for you. We like to point to anything and everything as being the cause of our problems, but most often it is a severe lack of love. All things can be traced back to love, either an abundance or an absence of it. Imagine if we put as much hard work into teaching one another how to love as we do trying to teach people to believe in their right to own or not own a gun. If we worked as hard to encourage people to love unconditionally as some people do to prove how God apparently loves conditionally. Dream of living in a time where instead of arguing about politics we encouraged our ability to see eye to eye. Think of the possibilities if we were as dedicated to one another as we are to our favorite sports teams, if just as much were at stake when we lost one of our brothers or sisters as it is when our team suffers a loss.
Without love, all things are irrelevant. And with love all things are possible. But we've got to start working love into our national discourse. We're already talking about everything else. People like to think it's cute, as if love were a fairy tale, that when people preach about it, it's uninformed, juvenile, and unaware of how the world really works. People in places of power like to condescend to pacifists as if all of them were children. But some of us are aware of how the world works, and contrary to popular belief what makes it go round isn't gravity, but love. It's time to come back to what really matters. We've talked about guns. We've talked about God. We've talked about politics, science, and football.
Now can we talk about love?