The price we pay for our fears is greater than the price we would suffer if our fears were realized. The tragedy is that our fears are usually groundless, so we choose to pay endless terrible costs in our minds and with our bodies to protect ourselves from nothing at all. We choose to put aside riches in our lives and instead don shackles that burn our skin and our souls.
We have it in ourselves to be free of these shackles. The cost is infinitely less than nothing, the reward is more than we could ever hope for.
In the wake of the terrible price we just paid for our fears we have, perhaps, an opportunity to choose to stop paying the fees for maintaining our fears. We could, perhaps, find it easily within our grasp to begin addressing the misconceptions which lead to the need to continue paying so dearly.
I posted the following on Facebook yesterday. A number of friends and family joined in the conversation that followed. It was, I think, a very healthy discussion.
The conversation helped me work through my emotions on the broader topic, though in all honesty I have still not managed to think much about the specific tragedy that triggered it. Each of the instances of violence this conversation is about are horrific in the true sense of the word, but what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is so painful to think about - it inspires such stark horror to imagine - that I am not sure I will ever be capable of encompassing the event itself in my own mind.
If we can find it in ourselves to begin the process of becoming free of the cause of this tragedy, though, the tragedy itself may in time be honored with actions worthy of such an unthinkable cost.
I ask you to begin a similar conversation with yourself. To honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our chance at freedom by having this conversation with those around you. To take the small risk of testing your fears by exposing them to those you love, and perhaps help them save themselves from paying more than they have already.
Having finally read some about the Sandy Hook tragedy there is something I would like to say. This is not about this incident alone, it is not about just the shootings we see too frequently, it is about how we all together come to be living in a world where these things happen far too often.
We need more than better access to mental health care, though I believe we need that. We need more than fewer guns, though I believe we would be better off without them. What we need most is to stop feeding our fears, stop withdrawing, stop thinking the worst of ourselves and others.
The world is not getting worse, it is getting better in almost every way. The people we see around us are not intrinsically evil, they are intrinsically good.
This is the truth. This is what I see around myself. The human race is worthy and wonderful. The future of our species is more full of joy than sorrow. You can trust both those you know and those you do not.
If you are conservative, do not believe that liberals are evil, they are not. If you are liberal do not believe that conservatives are evil, they are not. Do not believe that mankind is a cancer on the earth, it is not. Do not believe that mankind is doomed, we are not. Do not believe that we cannot solve every single challenge we face, we can. Do not believe you have to fear the world, you do not have to.
These beliefs we hold and repeat - across and within political boundaries - are lies. They are untrue. They lead to despair, they lead to violence, and they are false.