Most days I try to keep it moving in gratitude. I am so very grateful for the many blessings in my life – my wife, kids, friends, profession, health – amongst a host of other things. But living in gratitude does not make you immune to the ills of society. Our relationship between gratitude and the blows that life deals is, well…let’s just say it’s complicated.
Gratitude Amidst Devastation
So often, when things go awry in our society, someone comes along with the “it could be worse” line. And, while I believe this comes from a good place (most of the time), I can’t help but feel like it diminishes the very real tragedies and struggles folks are going through in real time.
Yes, it could “always be worse”…but stating such isn’t a meaningful way of dealing with chaos. We can still practice gratitude while being in a state of disappointment, disgust, anger, and/or frustration. But we operate in such a “grind it out” and “push through” society that often urges people towards feeling as we want them to feel (good) rather than the way they may need to feel at the time.
So this week, while I am so grateful for my many blessings, it has also been devastating.
Devastation sets in with each passing evening this week. I turn on the news to hear of the latest shooting here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
A horrid pattern that makes one question humanity. Senseless acts that change the trajectory of so many lives.
Paola Nunez Linares, a loving wife, daughter, and step-mom, was shot and killed – taken from her family, in an act of road rage – an innocent passenger.
Kyrie Barnes, a 7 year-old boy, was shot and killed – taken from his mother and family by “celebratory gunfire” while playing video games.
So many lives upended as 11 people were shot while celebrating the 4th of July at ComoFest. Paul Willis (18), Cynthia Santos (22), and Gabriella Navarrete (18) were all victims of this senseless, vile act.
Do Not Honk in Texas
I’ve told my wife a million times – I’m not honkin’ at anyone here in Texas. I’m moving over when folks are driving crazy. I’m not engaging with anyone on these streets because there are far too many people running around strapped – not only with firearms, but erratic emotions.
It’s really wild to think you can’t even use your horn here in Texas. We use the horn for a variety of reasons but, most importantly, safety. There was a day, honking your horn at someone could mean a variety of things.
You could give them the two-honks, which is like “hello”. You could give them the brief honk, which is like “I see ya”, or you could give them the full-on, blaring “I need you to realize you’re about to hit me” honk, and all would be well with the world. At most, you’d be told you’re “numero uno”. But not today. You better not honk at someone out in these Texas streets. Chances are, that person is armed. And, as evidenced by recent incidents – they aren’t in an emotional space to handle it.
To Be Clear
Let me be clear – my intention is not to advocate for the confiscation of all firearms. I firmly believe in responsible gun ownership and respect the rights of individuals who adhere to proper protocols. However, we must reckon with the fact that none of the tragedies mentioned above align with the concept of responsible gun ownership. We find ourselves with a grave, devastating problem. And it concerns me that, with each passing day and news cycle, we seem to be growing increasingly desensitized to it all.
As we witness these repeated acts of violence and tragedy, it becomes easy to slip into a state of indifference or numbness. This constant exposure to distressing news and images, slowly erodes our sensitivities and emotional response. And this creates a perilous detachment from the magnitude of the predicament we find ourselves in.
When we lose touch with the pain and suffering brought on by these events, we risk losing our sense of humanity. As our ability to empathize and take action diminishes, the cycle of violence continues to ravage our communities. All of this perpetuates a dangerous norm where we accept tragedy as an unavoidable part of our existence, rather than striving to prevent it or even attempt to make things better.
From Fixation to Transformation
Our fascination with firearms is terrifying. But, perhaps, what’s more deeply troubling is our unwillingness and/or inability to engage in meaningful dialogue, especially when the influence of social media algorithms pushes us further apart.
I implore you to open your hearts. May we care enough to strive for justice for these grieving families. Let’s care enough to foster safer communities. Communities where children can enjoy playing video games in their homes without the constant fear of losing their lives. Let’s care enough to take action instead of dismissing these tragedies as mere “misfortune” or claiming that “things could be worse.”
While it is true that circumstances could always be worse, it is essential to work towards the possibility of something better. What if we could foster a culture that values human life above all else, where empathy and understanding guide our interactions? What if we could bridge the gaps that divide us, engaging in meaningful conversations that promote unity and mutual respect? Somewhere, deep down, I believe we hold the power to see past that which divides us and into our commonalities. There is far more we have in common than what we’ve been led to believe for so long.
Because, yes, while it could definitely “be worse” – my goodness…what if we could make it better?
***Prayers of peace, comfort, strength, and love for each of these families as they navigate the trying days ahead.***