With the recent shooting last week, once again we have been drawn into the spotlight about how vulnerable we all are living in this country. I am not going to make this an argument about guns; whether we should change the laws or have any discussion of 2nd amendment rights. What I want to talk about is living a full life without fear.
If you pay attention to the news or social media, it is in your face continually. As we go about our daily routine, that underlying fear of making it home at night is something we all push back to a certain degree, but is a very serious reality.
Last week while sitting in the movie theater, I got my usual seat in the highest row, so I could not only pay attention to the screen but to the viewers in front of me. There happened to be a single seat kiddy corner to me almost a row back, up against the wall, (a single seat at the top of the aisle) and a lone gentleman came in late and, of course took that seat. Well I have to say, I enjoyed the movie, however, every time this viewer crossed his leg, leaned forward or moved in the slightest way, my peripheral vision had him on target. If I had seen anything related to a threat to me or anyone else, I had thought ahead in my mind how I would take him down. And yes, as a 63 year old woman, I would do everything in my power to do so. If you think about it, this is almost comical to think of, but when you look at the stats related to recent shootings in theaters, you can no longer not pay attention to your surroundings.
That is our reality. I really don’t know if I would be more comfortable seeing someone with a gun openly carrying because how am I to know if he is a good guy or a bad guy on a mission? The student at the college last week who had a concealed gun said he did not use it because he did not want to be confused as the shooter. We should not have to be concerned with these thoughts as we try to live our lives. We should not have to wonder all the time, yet, here we are.
I love my life. I love the freedoms I have. But my sense of safety, of just making it through one day to the next is slowly being eroded away by spontaneous violence in this country and the fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And for every single one of the victims, that is what it is; being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Where then, you ask, is the balance? Is there any? Do I sink further in my fears and give in to them? Already, I am hesitant to go anywhere at night. I certainly will not drive through certain areas. I look all around me while leaving and entering stores, malls and businesses. I live with the intention of making it home. And at home, I am pretty much in lock down mode, taking precautions with staying safe. Yet still…. is this enough?
I don’t know what the solution is in America, but I can certainly tell you I am tired of the division. I am tired of politicians offering up their cynicism of prayer, all the while refusing to even have conversations about America’s problems. If we look at the basics of our humanity, most of us want to live good lives and do no harm to others. Yet, when we refuse to listen to each other and refuse to have conversations because we don’t want to hear each other’s opinion, aren’t we in essence, saying I could care less about you? After every tragedy of late, the first thing stated is, “Nobody is taking my guns!” or “We need tighter gun laws!” That is it! Division and separation among all of us who are struggling to understand how we got here. We cannot even grieve together in common despair without turning on each other in this country.
We have got to find some way to move forward and live that good life without fear and without paranoid thoughts about everyone and everything. For me, prayer works! I pray for God’s protection; for my safety and the safety of my family and friends. I also pray for this nation and for our leaders. I don’t always know how God chooses to answer my prayer. But I do know He is faithful and he hears and just as He watches over the sparrow, He watches over me and mine. I think we all could use a little more faith in action to drive out the fear that has grabbed hold of this nation. Live intentionally, yet know and believe that God is in control. Psalms 34:4 states: I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Now while it may not change your circumstances, but it will change you in the midst of your circumstances. And for me, nothing, and I mean nothing is better than knowing God is my protector. Dr. King said it well when he stated “We must learn to live as brothers or perish together as fools”. Let us stop turning on each other and find common ground in living together in harmony. Let us learn to listen to each other. Let us help each other in our grief and learn to love and care for all.