“I Can’t Believe It Happened Here”

I’ve said that before. When violence erupted, I automatically tried to come up with all of the reasons it should or would never happen in my neighborhood. I was desperate to feel safe and secure again.

I now know the scalding assumption held in that sentiment.

Tragedy should only happen in “bad” neighborhoods. In poor neighborhoods. Or black or brown neighborhoods. Or inner cities.  Or in third world countries.

Not small towns, white neighborhoods, upper middle class parts of town in the USA.

Really?

Brutal tragedies shouldn’t happen anywhere.

Our words matter. Speaking disbelief that innocent people were gunned down in a “good” neighborhood is its own form of violence. The gaps between us grow wider. We are divided into “us” and “them” not just in the middle of horror, but in the center of how we (often unconsciously) are in relationship with neighbors near and far.

The despair of today is growing as our inequitable economy crumbles and the new has not yet emerged. These transition times are scary as the ground we’ve built our lives on is shaken to the core.

If we want to stand steady together, now is the time to dive deeply into the Big Topics and notice the ways that skin color, money, privilege, power and gender continue to skew our thoughts.

For most of us, separation and injustice is not our intent.

Collapsing into shame or denial isn’t needed or productive. But waking up and diving deeply inside ourselves is the work of those of us alive on the planet today. Leaving no stone unturned, it is time for us to look wide, dig deep and take an old toothbrush to those nooks and crannies that are more easily ignored but when cleaned out, make a house sparkle.

From that starting point, we can work together to bridge the gaps between us and begin to make all neighborhoods around the globe safer.

It is not easy. I can be fun. We owe it to the children, both today’s young and those who will follow us in the years to come.

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