Be the Light
Bend made national news … but this time it was not for its epic mountain biking trails, the numerous breweries, or its high desert beauty. Instead, people now know of Bend, Oregon because a twenty-year-old shot two people at a Safeway.
I’ve read posts from this young man’s “manifesto.” And I’m struggling … to not judge him or blame the system for missing how troubled this kid was. The human in me needs to understand the “why” behind this event. More importantly, I want to be assured it won’t occur again.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” Perhaps that answers the “why.” Yet, it does nothing to guarantee history won’t repeat itself.
But it will ... it always does. Did we already forget about the murders which happened here ten days prior? … “Two Teens Killed in Southwest Bend, Man with Troubled Past Arrested”—an article from The Bend Bulletin.
Our world is one hot mess. No doubt the past two and a half years accelerated the situation, but it did not create it. Humans are ill, suffering in ways we cannot imagine. And the longer we blame others, claiming there’s nothing we can do, the cycle will continue.
But there is hope. We do not need to accept this tragedy as “one of those things,” only to go about our daily lives as if nothing has happened. Because if we want our world to heal, we must look for messages from these events and then ask, “How can I be an agent of change?”
If we pause to acknowledge our broken hearts instead of becoming angry and condemning, we can't help but see how troubled some of our brothers and sisters truly are. Recognition of what’s underneath is the first step to evolve into a society that nurtures instead of ignores.
Does this mean we can “fix” hurt people? I’m not so sure it is our job to try to change anyone, as each of us have free will to choose our own paths. Still, we possess the ability to make an impact on the human level. Instead of pretending not to see those who are angry, depressed, anxious, we can …
… be kind
… be present
… be gentle
… be conscious to pause, not react
… look people in the eye
… offer assistance instead of dictating solutions
… resist the urge to judge
… show compassion
… consider other perspectives
… open our hearts
But here is the real issue …
Can we accept that God lives in each person, even those who show only darkness?
But how can a murderer—or others who commit heinous acts—be remotely connected to God?
Only recently have I begun to tackle this question. What’s helped me is to envision these individuals as babies or young children yet to experience trauma. While I have no idea of their life encounters or whether mental illness played a role in their path, I do know that at one time, they were pure, innocent souls. This belief reassures me God lives in us all, regardless of what we do. This does not excuse horrific acts. Rather, its purpose is to show us that despite another’s behavior, we are all connected, one.
And if we can acknowledge that everyone has a kernel of light within them, recognizing that something has extinguished that flame, then maybe we can shift our anger into compassion … at least, that is my hope.
Instead of searching for reasons behind life’s injustices, can we be the light for those who live in darkness? Are we able to accept those we cannot understand? For if enough people shine their lights through acts of love and kindness, then there is a chance we can light the way for others… out of the hell they live in … helping them realize another way is possible.
Be the light.
I followed my passion and was guided by the light inside of me. That light does not belong to me alone. It is innate in all of us. Everyone has it. But more often than not, we choose not to see it.