Evil touches every part of our lives. If you don’t believe me, scroll through any social media account. Profane memes. Derisive and divisive comments. Temples built to worship ourselves.
That is, until tragedy strikes.
Perhaps, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, you have seen the online community (and even those in your immediate physical environment) inspired. Prayers and condolences have been offered, and our national grief has been made palpable.
But I am curious: Who will we choose to be when our pain is no longer acute?
Hard questions, of course, require creative answers.
Nine years ago, I was a student on Virginia Tech’s campus when a deeply troubled young man opened fire. I survived, but the psychological scars from the experience remain.
In the years since, I have held onto my personal conviction to use that dark hour for good. What does this mean? I watch, intensely at times, every college student who enters my classroom. Inevitably, each semester at least one learner cries out in their own unique way.
[Insert verbal outburst, heated exchange, and/or sudden absence here]
My response is quite simple: Listen. I invite them to my office or an outside courtyard, and we discuss everything that they are willing to disclose for as much time as I have available – typically 60-90 minutes.
An untold (and potentially volatile) story is no longer such, and, I’ll confess, their writing soars.
If we want inspired kindness to remain, it is a responsibility we must assume ourselves. A return to our same comfortable lives forfeits hope for a brighter future. An unchanged world will not produce different results.
And that evil ever-present in our world, I’m ashamed to say, begins in our own hearts. Perhaps the most viral message of all should be a reminder that our actions and words matter. May we choose wisely – to love fully.