tragedy & beauty.
i could be angry. but i choose to channel that anger into passion. i could live in fear. but i choose to face my fears. i could feel overwhelmed and give up. but i choose to keep on going. i could just turn my head and live in my happy, little bubble. but i choose to be aware. i could focus on the evil, the violence, the pain. but i choose to focus on healing, reconciliation, and peace. i could pretend it didn’t happen. but i choose to acknowledge the pain and heal from it. i could stuff all my emotions down inside me. but i choose to find a way to talk about it. i could forget that it ever happened. but i choose to remember. i could hold a grudge and seek someone or some system to blame. but i choose to be a part of the solution, to educate, to move forward.
i could think that it won’t happen to me. but one never knows…
today marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at the youth camp and bombing in olso, norway where 77 people lost their lives. i remember the day last year, hearing the news of this act of terror, listening to the details unfold hour by hour. and then, the days that followed… hearing the stories of the victims, their stories of survival or the stories of their short lives as told by family members and friends.
it crazy to grow up in a time where i mark my life by acts of terror/tragedy (these are the ones that just popped into my head as i was writing).
- 1986 the challenger space shuttle exploded
- 1991 racial riots in my high school
- 1995 oklahoma city bombing
- 1999 columbine shootings
- 2001 september 11 terrorist attacks in NYC
- 2003 war in Iraq
- 2011 norway massacre
- 2012 aurora, colorado theater shootings
but, i guess i’m not the only one who can mark their life by tragedies, remembering where i was when this or that happened… my parents have this list, and then countless others to add: viet nam, civil rights protests/violence in the south, assassinations: martin luther king, jr. & president kennedy, the cold war, etc. and then, my grandparents: WWII, WWI, the great depression,etc.
of course, all i am mentioning here is from my tiny american perspective. i am greatly aware of (without knowing all the details & history, i admit) the fact that all of the countries/continents across the world have their own history, in addition to the history that we share. however, i can only speak from my experience, while acknowledging that everyone has their own experiences with tragedy and violence as well. many have much, much more first-hand experience of tragedy and violence than i.
i am painfully aware of the fact that there are horrible acts of terror and violence occurring daily in other parts of the world, of which i do not know the details. still, on a daily basis, details or not, i consciously try to think of all the people i will never meet who are suffering, who are frightened, who face bombs, guns, and abuse on a regular basis. i may not know them personally, but i know that they are my neighbors here in sweden, my neighbors in africa, my neighbors in the states, my neighbors in asia. they are my neighbors all around the world… and so many face the loss their lives or someone they love. yes, violence is everywhere. it touches everyone.
but, hang with me, friends.
the point of this blog post is first, for me to process my thoughts; and second, to remind myself & all of us what is most important. however in order to focus on what is most important, we have to be honest with ourselves. we have to open our eyes, we have to hear the cries, we have to see the pain and suffering, we have to listen to each other. we have to acknowledge what is happening in order to move forward. we have to open our minds and think. i agree, it’s not fun. it’s depressing. and it’s scary. but, i believe that we are in this together. we are not alone, and if we look honestly together at the state of our lives & our world, it is perhaps not quite as overwhelming.
the thing is… we need each other.
i don’t have answers to solve the problems of war & violence. i don’t know how to stop acts of terror. but, i do know that how i live my life makes a difference. just think, though, if we all thought about how we lived our lives, faced our fears, worked together, sought, as a community, to heal each others’ pain, shared each others’ burdens, listened to each other, and lived life from a place of love instead of fear and exclusion, we could begin to make a big difference together. still, i am only responsible for myself, i know. but maybe part of my responsibility in my life is to talk with others, listen to others, be someone with whom others can process their thoughts and reflect on their own lives.
it’s the whole pebble in a lake theory. what one person does makes a little impact, but it spread out further and further.what if we were all making little impacts?
however, all the tragedies and violence in this world teach us something else too. it’s not just a reminder to try to make a better world, but to look at how beautiful & wonderful the world is already. yes. i said it. even in the midst of all the pain & suffering, there is beauty and joy. perhaps the most important thing that tragedies teach us is to live life!
to soak up every moment. to greet each day and welcome all the possibilities it holds, to focus on moving forward, to reframe everything in the positive instead of the negative, to see problems as opportunities, to hear the music, to dance, to laugh until your stomach hurts, to enjoy good company & surround yourself with people who make you a better person, to close your eyes and breathe deeply, to face the sunshine, to believe in hope, to spread smiles and give hugs, to take risks and be adventurous, to dream big, to travel the world, to create art, to follow your bliss…
yes, i believe we must remember the victims, we must be aware of what’s happening in the world and in our own lives. we must be honest and face the dark times, because they are real. they are part of life. but, life is so beautiful as well. why not enjoy the beautiful moments when we have them? why not share that beauty with everyone we meet? why not work together to bring more & more beauty into the world?
thursday night, there was another act of violence & terror that occurred in aurora, colorado as people watched the midnight premiere of the newest batman movie. 12 people lost their lives and 59 people were wounded, many critically. *heavy sigh* yes, again. more violence. more death. more pain.
but, more opportunities to begin to talk again about how we can create a better world, without access to guns and bombs. and another opportunity for those of us left, to remember what is most important. to remember that the darkness exists, but the beauty of the world is brighter. as i always say, love wins.
i want to leave you with the words of one of the victims (jessica redfield) in the colorado shooting. no doubt many of you have heard of her on the news already… she survived a random shooting one month ago in canada, only to be killed in the shooting thursday night. chilling. but, her words are beautiful.
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
don’t we owe it to each other, to ourselves, to all victims of violence, to all who are suffering (even ourselves), to jessica… to make beautiful music with our lives, to live every second of every day as a gift?
breathe it all in, friends. love & hope. it’s all around you, even today.