Kindness Starts with Each of Us

The tragedy that unfolded on the night of October 1st in Las Vegas is heart wrenching. There are families today that have been torn apart. Those that lost their lives, the injured, the survivors, the first responders, the doctors and nurses, even some of us that have now watched the events unfold, will forever be changed. Many people will be haunted forever by the sounds, smells and images they have experienced from this ungodly, cowardly act by a clearly disturbed and evil individual. As someone just watching the news coverage, even I find that the sounds of the repeated gunfire are etched in my brain. Nowhere in this great country that we live should everyday American citizens have that sound ringing in their ears. Can you even imagine what it was like to be there? What those people, out for a fun night, enjoying music, are now replaying in their minds. Many, if any, will ever be the same.

Some have said that now is not the time to politicize what has occurred. You know what, they are right, it isn’t. It is however, the time to act! Most Americans don’t want this politicized. This isn’t a right or left issue. This is a human issue! To be completely transparent, I am not a gun owner. Quite honestly, I am uncomfortable around guns even though I’ve used them. Every year at scout camp I enjoyed going to the range and shooting. As I became a young adult, however, guns weren’t something I had a yearning to have or go out and use. Having said that, I have no problem with neighbors, friends or others owning firearms. Certainly, that is their right and I believe it should be.

Where I have a disconnect with the issue is how can any reasonable person believe that it is OK for those with mental illness be allowed to own a gun? Why would we not require background checks anytime a firearm is sold? The second amendment gives us the right to protect ourselves surely. However, how can any reasonable person believe that we need a cache of automatic weapons to do so? The last number I heard was that the evil scum in Las Vegas had 23 difference firearms in his hotel room, many of which were automatic. In addition, he had countless more in his many homes. From a reasonable, logical, human standpoint that just doesn’t make sense.

Many people are calling on our government leaders to do something. Will they? I don’t know. It seems that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of laws for stronger background checks and the likes but it hasn’t happened. Instead, our leaders are currently working on a bill that will legalize silencers. Does that help address the problem of gun violence as it relates to the loss of life? We need them to work on legislation that addresses the more crucial issues. I don’t know if they will take action or not. I pray that they do. Regardless of what they do however, we can all choose to take action.We have seen a great outpouring of kindness since the tragic events on that frightening and disastrous evening unfolded. We witnessed it as well after recent hurricanes devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. These acts are heartwarming to see and I hope that they continue. We often see an uptick in kindness and giving when tragedy strikes. Let us all ask God to remind us daily, especially so when the memories of these tragedies are no longer fresh in our minds, that we need to act with mercy, kindness and love every minute of every day to all those that we encounter in our lives.

This should be our challenge; can we all be kind to one another in our actions on a regular, daily basis? I know it isn’t easy and, try as we might, we will all fail from time to time. However, if we resolve to make the world and our individual space in it, better and filled with more kindness every day, then I have hope that the senseless violence will not be so prevalent in our lives. Evil does exist and I am not so naive to believe it will ever be eliminated, but we have to do better in making sure that the voices and actions of good drown out those of the misguided and truly evil.

Admittedly, I don’t know what the answer is or should be. There are certainly opinions and arguments on both sides. That’s not the point. The point is that we need to come together and have open discussions and figure out realistic, reasonable solutions. That must start in our homes, at our jobs and in our one on one experiences we have with each other daily.

I get the argument that Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws and yet the number of murders committed with guns there is the highest in the nation. So, the laws we are passing aren’t working. We need to work together, executing common sense, and pass laws that will help make a difference. We must also realize that, no laws, however perfect one may feel they are, are ever going to eliminate evil. Can we reduce it though? We can. That is the goal.

When asked for advice by someone who didn’t want to do something but knew they had to do it, the first century Hebrew scholar Hillel responded with, “If not now, when?  If not you, who?” Now is the time and every one of us is responsible to act with kindness in our part of the world. There is no reason to wait. We need to live fully and freely without fear. If we don’t do that then evil wins.

Be Great!  Be Strong! Be Determined!

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