More lives have been senselessly taken by an individual (at the writing of this statement no others are implicated) at the conclusion of a concert in Manchester, England with a distorted view of the world.
Like so many of us who live in the modern world, I am bewildered, afraid, angry, sad, and a whole other host of emotions as I watch this tragedy unfold on television.
I am also reminded of how many other tragedies that take human life go un-noticed, get skimmed-over, become politicized, or we simply have become so used to seeing and hearing on a perpetual feedback loop that we run the danger of either falling into deep despair or becoming numb to it all.
This morning, like many, I am in prayer for the families. I try to put myself in the situation and can image the panic of trying to look for my own kids (who are close enough in age to start going to concerts with their peers like those in Manchester) and it is horrifying to consider.
I join the President’s sentiment that those who cause such pain and suffering are “losers,” because what kind of person does such a thing? My immediate emotion at this event makes me clench my fists. I want answers. I want justice. I want revenge. I want it to stop. Please. Stop.
Thankfully, this isn’t the only thing I am feeling this morning. I reminded that Jesus called us to pray not only for ourselves but for our enemies too. Jesus can be really annoying like that – especially when I am feeling righteous about my standing in the world. Jesus also calls us to repent, which is also especially annoying, particularly when those who were impacted by hatred and violence are innocent to the pain and suffering now thrust upon their lives.
But Jesus’ call to repentance gives me pause – because all of us are part of systems in the world that contribute to the power structures that divide us – politically, economically, racially, religiously, generationally – and our own (my own) indifference to these systems and structures is not making the world the better place I hope to see around me.
So today, I pray. I pray for those kids, running away in fear. I pray for those families still looking for their loved ones. I pray for those in the hospital. I pray for the police and health care workers. I pray for those parents grieving for dead children. I pray for my kids as they go off to school.
I pray for those scheming behind closed doors planning on how they might inflict pain on others. I pray someone, somewhere, someplace, can show them another way forward, perhaps through a smile or an act of kindness or welcome or listening or working on the problems that divide people so deeply. I pray that God might use someone like me to do it. I pray that for you too. And I pray for God’s kingdom of mercy and peace to reign among us all.