The next Sandy Hook, Columbine, or Fort Hood incident is just around the corner. I don't know when or where, and I hope that I'm wrong, but I bring this up for a reason. What will we do about it?
The best opportunity to deal with such a crisis is before it happens. Oh, it's easier in a way to point fingers after the fact; to blame guns, laws, or parents. But is it effective? Blame is simply a method of discharging pain or discomfort and I've never seen it solve a problem yet.
In our culture we judge. How rich is he? What dress is she wearing? What kind of athlete is he? How well does she do in school? The result is shame and trying to live up to the expectations of others instead of listening to our own voices and realizing our true abilities. Shame drives some to push themselves at all costs and others to retreat to dark and lonely places. Neither is healthy.
Judgement is the fuel for shame. Empathy, understanding, and compassion (not sympathy) are the cure for shame. The manner in which we interact with our children, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers has a dramatic impact upon their behaviors.
Although true empathy is difficult, inconvenient, and takes tremendous emotional strength, it is one of our most powerful tools and abilities. In modern times, where everyday life is fast paced and work is stressful (if you can get it), empathy and understanding are more important than ever.
Are you willing to see the pain in someones eyes and recognize a cry for help? Are you willing to sacrifice and go out of your way to help someone in need? Someone you don't even know? Can you just listen for a moment to another's pain without judgement? Can you offer a smile when one is needed?
You may even avert the next big shooting or similar tragedy. You might remove the straw that was going to break the camel's back. You'll never even know it and that's the beauty of it.
Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living