Why Bother?

The world has changed—did you notice? Last Friday, a young man walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 20 children and 4 adults. Like you, I was stunned when I heard the news. I still don’t have many words to properly describe my sadness and compassion for the parents and families of those children. As a single parent, I raised my son alone; I recoil in horror from letting myself think too deeply about how I would feel if something like that happened in my life. This unimaginable event has changed the world.

I’ve seen many posts on Facebook, Twitter, NY Times, and elsewhere. Everyone has their opinion about what to “make” of it. Do we change our gun laws? Do we arm our teachers? What can we DO to make sure this never happens again? I imagine the boy’s father must be swimming in his own sea of grief (and guilt?). It’s natural for us to want to understand. It’s natural to want to find someone or something to blame. But, how do we make sense of the senseless? How do we understand the depth of another person’s sickness and pain?

In my work, I use a metaphor to describe the way we make meaning for ourselves (and others). I call it “the story.” We all have conditioning that goes all the way back to our beginnings that teaches us how to make meaning. We all have different lenses through which we see events and “make” them mean something—all supported by our history and conditioning. We have stories about everything: ourselves, our families and our world. The story pulls us out of our center. It pulls us away from the quiet, peaceful, loving awareness of our essential selves, and sends our energy out towards creating more stories. As long our attention stays out in the story: the process of making meaning, we cannot find true love, true peace or true understanding.

With so much darkness in the world, how can we sit in the center of our loving awareness? How can we choose the pure love which exists in this center over the fear that dominates and rules the story? And, perhaps more importantly, why should we even bother? My answer is simple: the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre makes it all the more critical that we practice bringing more love into the world. Fear is not the answer. Anger and hatred is not. Only love: loving each other, loving ourselves and continuing to love with bold and unwavering resolve, can change the world so that we do not have to lose any more children or loved ones anywhere in the world ever again. I send my love to the grieving families in Connecticut and all over the world whose lives have been touched by tragedy and violence. Only love can heal the broken and sick heart of fear.

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Dr. Laurel Ross

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