In the wake of several shootings, the closest one to home thus far having occurred at the Abington Nursing Home, my heart is crying — a bitter lament, pleading — calling out to God!
What has happened (or is happening) in our society that would make such violence acceptable in anyone’s mind? What makes hatred so strong that murder actually becomes an option? And, perhaps even worse, those slain in the Abington case were not the strong and able-bodied, but the weakest and most vulnerable in the community!
Surely we can go on and on about the evils of our day, railing against the lack of morals in schools and in the media. We can wring our hands in despair and say that the deterioration of the fabric of our society is due to a lack of religious principles and wholesome church guidance, etc. . . . And, indeed, while this certainly may hold true to a large degree, more important in these times is to sincerely ask the central and crucial question: what is the solution to all these problems?
In my own life, I have grappled with the question of evil many times, from all angles. In working with the poor and needy in our community, I have seen suffering that has taken deep root in families, pain and angst that cannot be remedied simply by giving a mother an extra loaf of bread. Personally, I have stared suffering in the face, raising my fists to God in protest, when roadblocks or traumas that I have endured left me reeling.
Nonetheless, in all these scenarios I have had to search for an answer, an answer that will ultimately bring peace. Peace to my soul, and peace, healing, and light to our troubled world.
“Pray, pray, pray,” I had heard in Medjugorje (a place of religious pilgrimage, to which I traveled many years ago). At this sacred shrine, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, allegedly appears to give messages to the world, calling all to live in peace with one another, calling humanity to live in love and change its heart.
For me, the resolution to problems in personal life, in families, and in the world, lies not in merely enacting better laws, or in forming better security systems in large facilities. Ridding ourselves of hostility at a personal level, “taking out the plank that lies in our own eyes . . . rather than pointing out the speck in someone else’s,” (citing the Sermon on the Mount) is, in my belief, where the most satisfying answer lies.
Rooting out the deep-seated faults that lie within each of us and sincerely working toward a change of heart and mind, following a spiritual path that teaches us how to love, and praying for change in our hearts and throughout the world — herein lie the solutions to the violence in our community. We will never be able to conquer evil with hate.
“Lord, make me a channel of your peace,” St. Francis of Assisi prayed. May each of us be an oasis of peace throughout our ordinary lives! If we listen with patience to a friend, smile when in the checkout line, quell our rage, breathe in calmness, and care for ourselves and others with love, we will be able to spread tranquility and light wherever we go.