The Constant Breaking News
It grows increasingly difficult to know what to say each time yet another mass shooting occurs in this country. This week there have been two shootings in California in three days with 18 people dead so far, bringing the total to 37 lives ended in the United States by mass shootings in just 23 days since 2023 began.
What can we say that hasn’t already been said? What can we say that will have meaning, that isn’t a mere platitude, and that won’t be forgotten moments later? What can we say that will actually help to stop this madness of violence and horror?
It’s impossible to pretend that mere expressions of sadness, outrage, or empathy for those whose lives have been shattered can make this omnipresent fact of our common lives go away.
And yet, it’s also impossible to stand by on the sidelines and not acknowledge the pain that is both the cause of such violence and the result of it, too.
There is no one answer to why some people are driven to kill in such horrific ways. There is no one answer to making it stop. The causes and the solutions are so varied and complex.
We all want to be heard. We all want others to value us and to know us for who we truly are. All we know is that there is one vital thing that can help to both prevent such destructive violence and to comfort and bring healing to those whose lives have been torn apart by it.
That thing is to start listening to one another – intentionally, compassionately, and nonjudgmentally.
Listening to help Someone who feels as if no one cares about them, begin to feel that someone does.
Listening to those who have different opinions from ours about guns and gun rights to seek common ground in our shared humanity.
Listening to those who have felt the devastating pain of a loved one’s death or debilitating injury from being shot, to find comfort and reassurance in knowing that others stand with them and that they are not alone in their distress.
Listening alone cannot prevent or stop the violence. But …
Listening can begin to break down barriers between us.
Listening well can provide a healthy release of anger, hurt, and confusion for Someone being heard, offering an outlet that can diffuse many of our more sinister impulses. Listening can give the gift of connection that those who feel lonely profoundly need.
Listening can identify and explore our common ground, opening us up to greater understanding of others’ lived experiences, as well as our own.
Listening can bring us closer together.
And when listening does those things, violence and hatred will diminish.
Just maybe, then, the constant breaking news won’t break our hearts, won’t break our hope, and won’t break our spirits like it too often does.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto