74-Building Deeper Empathy
Standing in the idle street, the air unseasonably cool for an early August evening, I listened intently as my neighbor continued her comments about the state of our great United States of America. “What about the one in Walmart? No, maybe I’m thinking of California at the garlic festival…” My mind instantly started making connections, unexplainable brain matter formulated thoughts, hypothesis’ and philosophical quandaries that provoked an unfamiliar emotion inside of me. I responded with a sense of fear for our culture, more internal than I have in the past, “Isn’t it sad that we can’t even keep the details straight about which shooting we are talking about? The frequency of these things is not good, not good at all. We have to do something!”
I’m not much into politics, just as long as my family and I can take care of ourselves and continue to move in the direction we read in Scripture and that of the Spirit, I’m good. However, the events over the last 30 days or so have poked nerves that I didn’t know existed. Maybe it’s how unaltered and calloused we have become since Columbine. That shooting took the nation to its knees for a little bit, seeming to have an affect closer to 9/11 than the fall of Toys R Us. Perhaps and most likely it’s because these recent shootings took the lives of a 6 yr old and injured a small baby, to which I have both living under my roof. The imagery was real and coupled with a Walmart backdrop where we visit from time to time and I finally felt the sorrow and pain of what maybe others have felt already. I thank God for these emotions because it is something that I have been praying for this past year. Empathy, compassion and a deep sense of love that dives far beyond what might affect me or my pride.
This blog definitely has a different flavor from my usual mountain tales and family adventures, but it’s been weighing on my heart this week and I think it’s important to at least consider. What can we do? I wish I had an answer, but like all the politicizing of these horrific events, it seems to promote personal agendas. What I will ask is this: through what lens do we view our world? How does God view our culture, our communities, our churches, our life styles, our motives, our desires? I believe John the Baptist had it right in the sense that he knew his place in our world—“He (Jesus) must increase, and I decrease…” Jn 3:30 I hope that you can empathize with me for the families and communities asking tough questions about faith, a God who loves and the future of our planet. I don’t mean to depress anyone but the wisest man to walk the face of the earth once said, “Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart.” Ecc 7:2
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