In the days, hours, weeks, and months to come, people will reference the horror of what happened today in Belgium—alongside the horrors of Paris, San Bernardino, Charleston, Newtown, Columbine, and too many more to list—and call for some specific action.
Some will say we should be more vigilant. Others will submit that we’re already too involved in fights and skirmishes we didn’t start and shouldn’t care about. Still others will say we need more weapons, more bombs, and more guns. Others will consider more shaking fists, rising voices, and building walls the answer. Some will weep for peace pursued through the rise of the industrial military machine, whispering prayers through tears that we may one day soon see the last sword beat into a plowshare.
We will bury ourselves under an avalanche of our own making: opinions, posts, tweets, retrospectives, meetings, reports, prayers, and rallies. It will be (and in some ways already is) too much.
So what do we do today? What can we do? Honestly, I don’t really know.
But I think we start by stopping.
First, we just literally stop. We stop and pray, if that’s something we do. Or we just stop, and breathe. We remember. We remember lives lost, lives you weren’t even aware of until they were gone. Pray and think and weep for the pain and death and destruction we have wrought.
For one minute, stop. Stop reading this. Close your eyes. Close your laptop. Open your heart, and let it break for where we are and who we’ve become.
Then let’s stop demonizing every single person who has ever dared to think or believe in a way or in a god that doesn’t align with ours. Let’s stop assuming that the presence of an opinion in our brain means it must therefore be the right one.
Let’s stop viewing social media as the means by which we can alternately build up or tear down other people, people groups, or even ways of thinking/worshipping/being. Facebook is for pictures of your dog’s new bowtie collar. It is not the place where you can avenge the pain you feel at not feeling as safe as you think you deserve to feel. Take your hands off the keyboard. Take a deep breath. Lay your weapon down.
Let’s stop assuming that we can make the world conform to our will through the simple and surgical application of force, be it through words or bombs or some disfigured combination of the two. Might doesn’t make right; it makes the strong feel safe and the weak feel forgotten. More bombs won’t necessarily make us less endangered, but it is guaranteed to make all of us somehow simply feel less.
Let’s stop believing the lie that there is one person or one law or one wall that will give us the world we think we deserve. The world is (blessedly) not that simple, nor will it ever be. Let’s stop telling each other the same ridiculous lie, and face the truth.
The truth is (Wesley was right), life is pain. Maybe that’s where we start.
We start with our sameness because, yes, we are all the same. We are not the same because of our skin color or our creed or our political party or our rightness. We are the same because of our brokenness. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all lost. We are one in our pain.
And if we are all wounded, then we don’t really need to hurt each other any more. Do we?
Finally (and this is what I believe and what I will do), we can remember that our greatest hope at healing isn’t in the November election or the committing of troops or even in found rightness.
It is in setting my face to the healing of others, for if your brokenness is mine, then so too is your wholeness. When you are one, I am one.
And then . . .
we can be one.