When I drove to work on Friday, I saw two men walking around an area downtown where the homeless congregate. No one makes them move along, and the resources are nearby, so it isn’t uncommon to encounter many of them. It was raining pretty heavily that morning – and these two men – clearly two men who worked for a nearby business, were walking around with two pots of coffee and a sleeve of paper coffee cups. Each homeless person they met – a homeless person who had found refuge under the eaves of the businesses – received a cup of coffee.
I could tell their path as I made my way to my parking lot. It was marked by homeless men and women, wrapped in blankets, with their hands wrapped around this steaming cup of coffee, their faces in the steam. The look of contentment was clear.
And I was happy to see the humanity in that morning. These two men were treating homeless who most ignore like they would the lamp posts as humans – as people – who deserved a cup of coffee just like we all do in the morning.
After the week we had experienced, a week that included a man going into a mall and shooting at innocent shoppers – killing two and injuring one – it was good to see the humanity. That good can still shine through the violence and the pain people were experiencing.
This feeling stayed with me until I read the news.
20 kids killed.
In a fucking school.
I worked hard not to think about the fact that my own husband is a teacher at a school.
And that my kids are in the same school.
I tried hard not to project on the fear it could inspire – instead I focused on the anger it raised in me that someone could do that to those kids – to those adults – what the fuck was happening?!
This attempt worked until I was in a meeting and saw my dad’s number on my phone. My first thought was of panic – please let this not be a phone call that someone was in the hospital. I grabbed my phone and stepped out of the meeting.
“I just need to hear my kid’s voice right now – I need to hear you are all okay. I need that right now.” were the words he spoke as his voice cracked. I reassured him all was well. We were well. And he explained he cannot assume that anymore – the world is fucked up – too many crazies – he needs to check on us all. And being a Christian man, he needed to pray we would never encounter the crazies that seem to litter the word right now.
This call is when my anger turned to sadness. I realized how hard this was hitting everyone. As a friend said on Facebook, parents had presents under their tree that would never be opened Christmas morning now. Where did this humanity go that I saw this morning? Why is what I saw the exception, not the rule these days?
I won’t go on any rants. I won’t go anti-gun or pro-gun. This doesn’t seem to be the right time for these discussions. Parents are mourning the loss of the children. Twenty innocent lives were taken by a young man who was raised with guns and was likely taught to use them responsibly. Guns are not the issue. Our lack of humanity is.
Maya Angelou said on Facebook right after the news:
“Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am sorry.””
We are all family. We are all people worthy of life. We need to remember this – at all times. We need to stop thinking of any life – of any person – as less than human – as less valuable than we are. People are one things – circumstances are another. We as a human race needs to see everyone has human.
My husband was lucky enough to be able to bring a Holocaust survivor into his classroom to talk about his experience with his kids who had just learned about it. When a child asked him if he hated the people in the camps that did that to him, he said “I cannot begin to understand the fear they had. They had families. They had people they were also trying to protect. I cannot hate them for attempting to do the same thing – and doing what they were told to save them.”
This is a man who was in three concentration camps – who watched as his entire family was killed – feels no ill will against the people he encountered. Because they were human just like him.
We need to learn these lessons too. We need to teach it to our kids. We need to be careful of our language. I think the man who did this act of horror is an evil bastard. I wish he hadn’t killed himself. But I wish that not so he could be killed via the courts. To wish that makes him inhumane, I wish he had to face those grieving parents. We need to stop the violence.
And we need to put positive into the world. No more negative. No more hate. More coffee to homeless – less worrying about what you don’t have. More humanity to our neighbors. Less competition with them.
More compassion and help to those who need it. Less political bullshit trying to simplify a complex issue.
Twenty little kids are dead. Two adults were killed earlier this week – a coach of kids and a hospice nurse. We have kids being killed daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to make that all stop.
We need to make Peace on Earth a reality – not just a dream.