After a frustrating and exhausting end to our family vacation, Joe and I had to leave the house to get groceries. We went to our local Wal-Mart and made it in the doors just as a summer rain began. The breeze was cool and big, fat raindrops began to fall. We made our way inside to the vision care center and began to look at frames. The associate helping us brought up an alarming fact. A Wal-Mart in El Paso had an active shooter. She told us she and the other employees were informed and everyone was on high alert. I sat in the vision center realizing that we were at the entrance to the store. If I had been in El Paso, I may have been one of the ones killed. Not only because I was at the front, but because I am Mexican.
Joe and I left the vision center and went to collect the things we needed. A few moments into our shopping he said, “It feels strange today.” I nodded my head in agreement. Suddenly, our Wal-Mart didn’t feel safe. The change in weather, the atmosphere, what was happening in El Paso…it was all too close to home. We finished our shopping and left as soon as we could.
I realized in those moments that I go about my days shopping and running errands without much thought to what is around me. Living in a small town gives you a feeling of security, but when a shooting is close to home, you are snapped out of that complacency…and suddenly you feel exposed.
Last week our trip was cut short after numerous things thwarted the second part of our vacation, and the final straw was when our rental car window was smashed, and my son’s belongings were stolen. The feeling of violation was overwhelming and trying to console a teenager when they have never been the victim of a crime is very difficult and heartbreaking. You both feel a sense of vulnerability that you had not felt before.
We live in a world filled with hate. Hate for those with a certain skin color or religious belief. Hate for identifying as a member of the LGBTQIA community, hate for those who belong to a certain political party, and even hate based on what a person has or doesn’t have. I choose love over hate every single time. I choose love despite a person’s political agenda or religious affiliation. And I choose love no matter who a person loves.
I have a hard time understanding why our society is victim to hate. I think it’s more fear than anything but unfortunately many find fear to be threatening and the only way they can combat what they don’t know is by hate and violence.
My heart is heavy for the victims and families who have been affected by violence in our society. I don’t have the words to express my sorrow, anger and disbelief. All I can do is pray and urge you to join me.
Creator, God, give us the eyes to see those who hurt, the ears to listen to their concerns, and hearts to show compassion and empathy. For those who are different, let us love no matter our differences. For those who are like-minded, let us come together to love with abundance, and for the lost, use us in the ways You see fit to help them find their way. -Amen