One year ago today, a man came to a place of spirituality and murdered six people he had never met. Pulling the same trigger, he sent a grandfather into a coma that his family still prays he wake from. The same trigger sent bullets to riddle the body of a valiant police officer who we are all so fortunate to still have with us. The last life ended that day was that of the murderer himself, by his own hand.
Why would someone take the lives of his fellow human beings with such senseless cruelty?
Grandfathers, fathers, brothers, sons, and a sister who was also a mother, and a daughter. Beloved, respected, and cherished people who embodied the American Dream of realizing happiness and success through hard work and perseverance. Spiritual beings who graced all life in their path with love and inspiration.
Why would anyone seek to harm them?
Because hurt people hurt people.
Because when suffering isn’t treated with compassion, it seethes, and spreads.
When fear isn’t met with courage, it deceives and disconnects humans from humanity.
When ignorance isn’t countered with wisdom, it festers, and takes root in the hearts of the fearful.
When hatred isn’t cradled with loving-kindness it can corrupt the beauty of existence to the point where nothing but homicide followed by suicide seems to make sense.
Through a miserable, abruptly ended lifetime, devastated by its own tragic mistakes, insults, and injuries the depths of which only he could ever know, a child once as innocent and lovely as any other became mired in a cycle of suffering that ultimately shattered our world on August 5th, 2012.
…and brought us together.
Together, rather than cultivate suffering, we choose to honor our lost loved ones with the glory and grace of our common humanity.
We choose to sow seeds of kindness, and to practice the nourishment of compassion.
Seven people died in Oak Creek one year ago, because untreated suffering was inflamed by fear, ignorance, and hatred.
Though we may have come from all corners of the magnificent Earth we share…
Though our complexions may fall anywhere along the wonderful spectrum of human skin color…
Though we may exist anywhere amidst a natural diversity of gender and sexuality…
Though we may be eternally grateful to worship in an infinite number of ways, or seemingly not at all…
We all share the same capacity for spirituality—the study and practice of noble human qualities. Like the qualities our lost loved ones taught us. We are all able to give gifts of compassion, courage, and wisdom in an abundance limited only by our will to love.
Seven people died one year ago.
If we can find the strength to forgive the one who took the six…
…what would that mean?
Together, today, and from this moment forward, we can answer in abundant, unconditional love for our entire human family, and all of the life that we share.
We can live in sublime continuance of Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh Khattra, Prakash Singh, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, and Satwant Singh Kaleka, of the lives lost in Boston, of the children of Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine, every name on No More Names bus, the people dying every day on the North Side of Milwaukee, on the South Side of Chicago, in Syria, Afghanistan, in the Holy Land, Mexico, Brasil, Africa…
We can guide the next suffering and isolated individual to embrace our interdependence.
We can address conflict with care and cooperation.
We can meet fear, ignorance, and hatred with courage, wisdom, and compassion.
We can shape the reality we collaboratively create to be one of uplift and healing.
We have lost our youth. We have lost our women. Our society may have lost respect. We have lost our elderly.
Yet we can find the gift in the wound.
We can strike the ultimate blow against the misery that a suffering man so tragically chose to represent…
…if we can forgive.