I just left Vegas a few days ago, with very fresh memories of how loud and all aglow it was, which makes it particularly difficult for me, in these moments, to fathom a man mowing down people who are having a good time as though they were foes on a battlefield.
Such a tragedy tears at your heart and it came at a time when we Americans are already suffering as we seem to be spinning aimlessly away from embracing each other as fellow citizens.
Like, for example, the situation with NFL players, of all people, who kneeled on one knee, before us and the world, when our anthem was being played to bring awareness to the ongoing racism people of color face – and, instead of “we the people” condemning the injustice these citizen-athletes highlighted, we yelled at them and booed them and called them un-American when protesting is about as American as being an American can be.
Do we truly have no empathy for each other, because if we don’t we can’t come to love each other and if we can’t come together in love we simply can’t make our world a better place for all the human race – and that’s what we should be doing at a fast pace.
The disastrous event in Las Vegas has me running notions of love through my mind to take my mind away from the sadness inherent in the madness.
I find myself thinking back to earlier this summer, not too many days ago, when I was a panelist in Honolulu at a conference about “Bridging Our Differences.”
For my part, I spoke of how I, in my work as a teacher and a principal, bonded with students by setting a loving tone for them at their schools and how I, as a black man, modeled bridging differences.
Loving people rather than being their enemy has pretty much worked for me in my 79 years but I still have a lot to learn when it comes to loving as I found out from my participation in the conference.
Days before the event began I shared an email with my fellow panelists about my involvement in protecting Muslim students from being bullied at school and included a poem of mine: “What the World Needs Now is Empathy.” Your typical “Bridging Our Differences” kind of stuff.
One of the participants apparently didn’t like what I had to say and asked me to take him off my email list and when I asked “Why should I do that?” he never replied and that was fine with me.
And at the conference, he casually mentioned that he supported the president which made me and everybody in the room go “Damn!” as our eyes opened up like Mr. Magoo’s.
Nobody took him on, in the moment, though, basically because of how things were going, the positive flow and all and my attitude was essentially “Screw him” which is not the most endearing expression a loving person could use.
But the conference chair, a bright beautiful loving caring motherly highly spiritual person challenged me to reach out to him because it would be a loving thing to do.
So I wrote an email to him, highlighting how his words and attitudes, before and during the conference, had thrown me for a loop because I just don’t understand and I also expressed my appreciation for some of his “right on” remarks about the “aloha spirit’ and such, and for some writing he had posted on the panelists’ “sharing wall.”
My message to him was based on what I had learned at the conference regarding how the aloha spirit is about being aloha from the inside out, about being forgiving and respectful of others. I ended it with words from what’s known as the “ho’oponopono healing process”:
“I love you;
Please forgive me;
Can there be better sentiments than those?
I still haven’t heard from him, however, but I’m understanding more and more that our mission, if we want a better world, is not so much to seek love but to give as much love as we can.
I’d like to think that the more love we generate, the less likely we’ll have to tolerate dark days like those in Las Vegas right now.
Love on, America!