It’s not worse than it’s ever been. We don’t need to give up hope or lose faith in our fellowman.
Though it’s impossible not to wonder what is going wrong when so many disenfranchised young men perpetrate such reprehensible crimes on so many innocents, it is possible to gain perspective when seeing the hundreds and thousands more who respond in sensitive and caring ways.
Though it’s impossible not to wring our hands and wonder who can be blamed or what can be done to help keep us safe and restore our trust in humanity, it is possible to see that we live at a time when there is more peace than has existed in many past eras or that exists in many parts of the world.
Bad people with diabolical designs are not new to our society or to history.
Whether you’re reading the Bible or a newspaper, whether reading about Cain or about Herod, about Mexico or about Chad, you will see acts of inexplicable violence, sometimes perpetrated by individuals, sometimes by entire governments.
That it’s happened before or that it’s happened in worse ways doesn’t make us more able to understand it.
We don’t have answers.
We can’t stop every angry person from angry acts.
But we do have some things too many in the world haven’t had in the past or don’t have now:
Police who protect. Government for the people. Schools for everyone. Rules that keep order. Free elections. Laws that are enforced.
It sounds so basic because we’re so used to it. We expect our police to find the perpetrators in a few days, we expect the courts to judge them fairly before their peers, we expect justice to be done.
In so many countries that is not what happens.
For those who can’t trust their police, their courts or their government, for those who aren’t safe in church or going to school or on a bus or in their own homes, there can be tragedy in every day.
In reading TIME’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, it’s remarkable how many times the phrase “American dream” comes up.
It might be a musician, a clothing designer or the president of the United States, but there are still those who dream and still those who reach their dreams.
In too many countries that dream is stifled or stymied. Indeed, the most influential people outside America are those trying to restore the chance to dream to their countrymen.
We have lost our innocence in some ways, but we have it protected in so many other ways.
As we’re trying to figure out why it’s so bad, let’s also recognize the ways it is good.
And then let’s keep trying to make it better in America and let’s support those who are working to make it better across the world.
Love somebody. Thank somebody. Put your arm around somebody. Tell somebody you appreciate what he did or what she said. Help somebody up. Teach somebody. Stand up for somebody.
Maybe we can’t fix the world. Maybe we can’t even understand it. But let’s try in every way we possibly can.