Brokenness is not just an individual experience. Our entire world—or at least the human part of it—is broken also.
That's not new news to any of us, but weeks like this with yet another case of mass murder force us to acknowledge that which we often try to push to the back of our minds.
As a country, we've grown overly used to these happening on a regular basis so that many have become somewhat numbed to the horror. The sheer number of dead and injured involved in the Pulse nightclub incident seems to have broken through that numbness for at least a short time.
This particular atrocity has hit even closer to home for me, and I have found the noise of the coverage and commentary on this event exhausting in the midst of my grief and fear.
I watch the usual cycle of blame and fear and anger and argument with increasing discouragement and wonder whether we as a people will ever find a way to come together enough to heal the brokenness that allows these kinds of things to happen.
It's hard to have much hope that healing is possible in the face of so much corporate brokenness. How can any one of us do anything to make a difference?
Finding hope in the helpers
Rev. Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers of the children's TV show) tells the following story in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world."
When I look for them, I find the helpers out there making a difference even in this case.
I read the stories of those in the nightclub who helped to save the lives of some of the injured through their quick response to bandaging wounds with whatever cloth was available and keeping pressure on them to slow the bleeding. They did this despite the risk to themselves in the moment.
I read of people standing in line to give blood for the injured, including many Americans of the Muslim faith who are in the midst of the extended period of fasting for Ramadan, which makes giving blood even more challenging. They do this despite the blame and hatred being directed at them from some quarters.
I read of the Orlando Chick-Fil-A who came to work on Sunday when they are normally closed in order to offer free food to those responding to the shooting. They did this despite the company's usual policy and historical opposition to the very community that was targeted.
In the midst of the horror, there are plenty of signs of hope that come from individuals doing what they can to make a positive difference. When I focus more on those than on the voices of blame and fear and ugliness, I can shift out of the hopelessness of discouragement to consider how I might make a positive difference as well.
Becoming a hopeful helper
I don't have the answers for how to get us out of the broken mess that we have created, and I still have no way to fix this on my own. But I can do what I able in my part of world to be the kind of helper that creates hope for others by helping to make the world a better place in whatever small way I can.
I want to be part of the gold of healing rather than contributing to the ongoing brokenness.
I want to see us foster enough hopefulness as a people that we feel encouraged and empowered to move toward whatever changes will stem this flood of violence.
For me, this has meant carefully measuring my words and interactions on social media to make sure I am not posting (or commenting or liking) from a place of fear or hatred or blame but to hold off until what I put out there in the world can come from a healthier place.
Yes, we do need to work hard to make changes and that requires argument for what those changes should be, but if I am using my words as another form of violence to others, I am not helping to create hopeful change.
That means measuring every word to ensure that it is promoting comfort and healing instead of coming from the deep place of fear inside me.
I am doing more listening than speaking, aiming to be a healing presence for those who are hurting around me. I am dealing with my fear and grief privately instead of lashing out publicly, and that has largely meant staying silent for now as I process.
It means, for me, looking more at where I can build bridges to those I may disagree with than looking for ways to attack or belittle them.
It's not easy, but being a part of healing (our own personal healing or corporate healing) never is.
I invite you to consider how you might aim to be a part of creating hope and healing in the midst of corporate brokenness too. Let's be part of the gold of healing instead of contributing to the ongoing brokenness through either apathy or violence (in word or deed).
Questions to ponder
Where are you finding hope in this broken world? How do you seek out the helpers in your midst?
How are you being a helper and working toward our corporate healing? What might you change to be a greater contributor of hope and healing in your corner of the world?
What helps you shift from operating from a place of fear to operating from a place of love and hope? How can you incorporate more of that into your life to increase your ability to act from a place of love?
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