Something terrible happened in our country and I want to talk to you about it. Fifty people were killed in Orlando by a man who hated how they were living. He turned dancing into mourning by emptying ammunition into a nightclub in the early morning. Lives were snuffed out as he allowed hate to power his actions.
Children, you are twelve, nine, seven, three, and one month old today and even at your young age there are some important things you need to know about being a human being in light of this horrific tragedy.
Don’t be afraid of those who are different from you. Just because you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, political views, or religious convictions, doesn’t give you permission to dehumanize, demonize, or ostracize them.
Recently, I attended a baby shower for someone I had briefly met. My newfound friends from the Middle East invited me to a celebration of life and although our religious beliefs were a world apart we found common ground among party games, ethnic food, and popular dances from around the globe.
Near the end of the baby shower, I watched in admiration as the women took turns demonstrating a style of dance from their country of origin. Dances from Jordan, India, and Saudi Arabia graced the cream-colored carpet during this festive occasion as their native tunes blared through a smart phone. Then they invited me to take center stage as I attempted to bust a move to “Uptown Funk” as a tribute to my American roots. My hip and shake, while full of heart, lacked in execution compared to the beauty of their fluid movements.
The new life growing within the guest of honor bonded us together as we let our hair down and celebrated the joys of motherhood without borders. I could have let insecurity and fear stop me from attending this gathering, but I would have missed out on an enriching and eye-opening experience that I haven’t soon forgotten.
Unfortunately, I could give you many examples when I haven’t chosen to stretch myself and when I’ve allowed judgment to prevent me from getting to know some amazing people.
Children: Hold to your convictions, cling to your beliefs, but don’t let it keep you from engaging with those who are different from you.
Don’t just be relieved it didn’t happen to you. It’s tempting, when you hear of hard news, to just be glad you weren’t the victim. But you are a human being and so were the victims and the Bible teaches us to “mourn with those who mourn”.
In this crazy world you can quickly grow numb and apathetic to tragedy. We hear of it far too often these days. People often leverage tragedies such as this to push political agendas but may these events push you to be alert and empathetic to the suffering of others. May you not just be thankful you dodged a bullet but may you “weep with those who weep” and offer your time, talents, and treasures to help comfort others.
Grieve because innocent lives were lost. Honor their lives because they were a part of the human race.
Children: Embrace empathy and abstain from avoidance. Look tragedy in the eye and see how you can humbly offer salve to the suffering.
Use your influence to help not hurt. Often when major events happen like the Target bathroom decision, the Gorilla incident, and the horrific Stanford rape, I don’t write about it. I’m glad that others do but I often feel unqualified or like an opportunist if I personally write about all the latest headlines. It’s not that I don’t have opinions about these current events, it’s just that I try to weigh what I should and shouldn’t write about.
Lately, I’ve been contemplating this, “What is my responsibility as a writer to respond to these events?” “Will I be adding noise or value to the conversation?” “Will I be accused of typing out words in order to get attention, followers, or a nod while lives bleed out with brokenness, trauma, and terror?”
The naysayers may accuse me of being an opportunist but in light of the Orlando Massacre, I see this as an opportunity as a writer, a believer in Jesus, and a human being to speak out on behalf of lives snuffed out. I want to use my voice and influence online to offer compassion to the hurting. I also want to exercise my influence as your mom to educate you on the power you possess to help others.
Whether your influence is small or far-reaching, people are listening to what you have to say and watching how you respond. Even when you disagree with others or live differently than they do, respect their life and speak out to defend their right to live.
Children: You don’t always have to sound off—it’s important to be a good listener and not a know-it-all. However, don’t be afraid to use your voice to speak up for those who are suffering or silenced.
Overcome evil with good. From cyber-bullying to sexual assault, from stone-throwing to justifying crime, the world you live in prides itself on divorcing morals and abandoning age-old truth. But as you offer prayer, meet practical needs, and care for the breath and life of others, you silence accusers and shun evil with a lasting light.
It’s often inconvenient to concern yourself with the pain of people. It can be messy to involve yourself in matters where you might be misunderstood. But compassion can shut out the darkness. Kindness can shut up evil.
Children: Being kind to another doesn’t mean you have to abort your beliefs or adopt other beliefs but it does mean you’ll probably need to get out of your comfort zone to exercise kindness.
Don’t ever forget the importance of living out age-old truth, especially in the face of tragedy.
Don’t take your life for granted, but use your breath, your body, and your beliefs to make a difference in light of this broken world.