On days like today, when great tragedies occur, I usually get very quiet. My facebook statuses and tweets go silent, and I can’t find words. Most things I can think to say sound trivial, and it annoys me that others are ok with being trivial. In a way, I understand that “the world must go on” because there are tragedies daily that we oft don’t hear about, but acting as if there is no horror in tragedy doesn’t sit well with me. The pit in my stomach and lump in my throat will remain for days after news like today.
On days like today, I think a lot.
I think about why horrible things happen. I think about how pain and mental illness breed pain and mental illness. I think about mercy. I think about loss. I think about victims. I think about forgiveness. I think about justice.
Because of the line of work that I have chosen, I experience a lot of great tragedies through others’ experiences. I experience suicide, physical abuse, poverty, addiction, mental illness, oppression, chronic hunger and sexual abuse. Great tragedies occur daily for many. Add those to great tragedies like that which we see in the news today, and I’m back to being without words.
I was raised to look for silver linings in everything. I was taught to look for truth in hopelessness, or good in evil. But there are days, when there are no silver linings in the intense storm clouds that brew in the world.
Some days the darkness is just dark. Some days, there is just evil, hatred, violence, and pain.
What do we do with that?
We acknowledge the darkness.
We don’t try to pretend its ok.
We acknowledge our fear.
We pray some more.
And then, we have a choice.
We can use the darkness as fuel to fight for justice and mercy. I’m not proposing that we use the darkness as fuel for hatred, bitterness, violence, or indifference. I’m proposing that we use the feelings that have been churning in us to make a difference in the world, maybe even to prevent future tragedies.
We have a choice in our response to tragedies: We can ignore them, we can get angry about them, or we can act as a result of them.
How do you respond to tragedies? How can we pursue justice in the midst of tragedy?
“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8