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The virtue of saying nothing

ap_shooting_dc_160612_4x3_992-900x675It’s been quite an emotional week. If it weren’t so sad and tragic, it would have been absolutely bizarre. When news broke of the massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. America followed its new pattern: one millisecond of shock and horror, then an avalanche of finger-pointing and political posturing.

Before the blood was even dry, we jumped to exploit raw emotions, jockeying for any political advantage we could get. We blamed immigration, guns, conservatives, progressives, Christians, Muslims, homophobia, prayer, God’s wrath, and my favorite, the lack of safe spaces for the shooter to question his sexuality. We managed to blame everyone and everything but the guy who shot up the place.

And in the midst of all of this jockeying, the victims and their families cried and grieved and started down the painful road toward healing.

The tragedy in Orlando should have brought us together as a nation. Instead, it created a cacophony of political blame, insults, mockery, scolding, demands, attacks, and counterattacks which are not helpful.

So I sat down to see if I could write something – anything – which might be.

But I’ve got nothing.

This is curious. Given all of the garbage which has passed through social media and the press, there are plenty of comments and opinions to answer. Yet I have no response.

What could I say that hasn’t already been said? What could I possibly contribute to the discussion? Absolutely nothing.

Will offering opinions or commentary ease the suffering? Will critiquing the callous inhumanity of journalists, politicians, and social media know-it-alls show that I care more than they do? No.

As families start the process of burying their loved ones, I know that there is nothing I can say, and that saying nothing is the best response.

I am beginning to see that all of the finger-pointing and posturing in the secular world is similar to what we do in the Christian one: hitting grieving people with scriptures like Romans 8:28 (“…all things work together for good to those who love God…who are called according to his purpose”). We can’t explain suffering and it makes us uncomfortable, yet we still want to show how much we care. So we place blame and demand action which, like quoting Romans 8:28, makes us feel better but solves nothing and doesn’t help the one who suffers.

So if platitudes, rhetorical arguments, and knee-jerk reactions don’t help, is there anything we can do?


We can be present in the suffering. We can stop assigning blame, spouting clichés, and demanding quick fixes. We can pray for the victims’ families. We can ask God to bring comfort through the body of Christ. And we can do all of this silently, fervently, continually. We don’t even need to announce that we are doing it.

The truth is,  this massacre will not be the last. Our world is broken. Evil exists. And shouting down our political opponents does nothing to promote healing.

After a week of shock, it seems right to be still and seek God. Only he can fix this.


Published inCommunityCultureCurrent EventsGrief

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