I know I said I’d be back here writing over a month ago, and I had every intention of doing so. I planned on writing the answers to some “thought-provoking questions” as an outlet for myself, and anyone else who may have stumbled upon it. I planned on perhaps writing a review of a book I’m currently reading (and should be done with by now). I planned on writing about a recent episode of Dateline or 48 Hours.
I wasn’t planning on writing about another tragedy happening close to me. The third–or fourth if you count the DC Sniper attacks–I’ve been personally effected by since 2001. I’d hesitate to say it’s becoming a trend every few years, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t say I’m noticing a pattern.
Maybe it’s a pattern with me–wherever I am, these things follow. Or wherever I go, there’s some sort of anomaly that happens while I’m there. Or maybe I’ve been in some of the worst places in recent years of this country at the worst times. Or maybe God has slowly, over the last fifteen years, revealed to me His heart, His feelings, and His love for what He’s created. Everything and everyone He’s created.
Because let’s be honest: I was angry after 9/11. I was angry at bin Laden. I was angry at al Qaeda once I grasped what had happened to our country at just fourteen years old. I mean, the organization attempted to murder my own father that day. I had every right to be upset. I had every right to want bin Laden, and the rest of them, to suffer the way so many innocent people did on that day. I, like most Americans, was upset and stripped of my innocence when it comes to this world and the people in it.
I was angry at the DC Sniper just a year later. Living in his area of attacks, I was angry I wasn’t allowed to walk off the bus without being escorted by a policeman every morning. I was angry we couldn’t even pump gas without being covered by a tarp and feeling the need to always be moving because we had no idea if he was staring at us through the barrel of his sniper rifle.
I was angry with Cho after he murdered a friend of a friend, a former classmate, at Virginia Tech in 2007. I was angry that anyone could ever point a gun at that sweet girl (let alone the others also killed) with the intention of killing her. I was angry her life was cut so short when she could have been so much more in this world. I was angry he decided to go down, taking his own life, along with 30+ others for no sensible reason.
And today, I’m angry that there are people out there who are suffering. I’m angry that they’re suffering because their loved one is gone for, once again, a reason that doesn’t make sense to us. A reason that, perhaps, could have had a different outcome if maybe, just maybe, that person had not spent so much of his life suffering himself.
And I feel angry that whatever was going on in this man’s life, he chose to go out the way that he did. Once again, a miserable person has dragged down more than fifty people as a result of his own unhappiness, his own feelings, and his own agenda.
Right? Isn’t that what it comes down to? I look at this man and I see so much unhappiness, so much hatred, and so much darkness. And I have to wonder what brought this man to this point. What happens in a person’s life to make them want to evilly laugh as he killed innocent people begging for their lives in a bathroom? What was so awful within his heart and mind that he decided this was the way to go?
Seeing the response from this community over the last two days, I’ve realized something. And perhaps I’ll be chastised for saying this, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s sad to me that this is what it takes for a community to come together and define ourselves as “one” and to say and show we “love” one another. This is what it takes for us to pray for each other. So what were we doing before? Where was this love and unity prior to Sunday? Where were the prayers for all of those suffering before this attack–perhaps even those suffering who committed such acts? I wish it didn’t take the loss of fifty innocent lives in our community for us to take a step back, see the big picture, and love each other, accept each other, and encourage each other. I wish we did this anyway, without a tragedy catapulting us in this direction.
So after the dust settles and we find ourselves back in our usual routine, feeling whole again after that hollow, carved-out feeling disappears beneath our skin, may we remember what it felt like in these days to love, accept, and pray for one another. And maybe we will feel inclined to continue to love, accept, and pray for each other every day. Because we will never know how much someone could be suffering inside and could use some love, acceptance, and prayer from complete strangers.
“For what you intended for evil, God intended for good.” -Genesis 50:20