Out of atrocity can come a hint of beauty

People, some displaying a Tunisian flag, stand in silence next to flowers during a gathering at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia
People, some displaying a Tunisian flag, stand in silence next to flowers during a gathering at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia
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So, sometimes I imagine I can stop the world so that I can get a chance to catch my breath before something else awful happens. .

The news over the last few weeks has been so upsetting…….the shootings on a beach and in a Bible study, both places where you would think people would be safe and relaxed, being turned into a nightmare by a few that allowed hatred to motivate their actions.

When atrocities happen, it causes us all to think about why such terrible things occur and it seems once we’ve worked this out, we can carry on with normal life. One of the answers commonly given for “What made them do this?”, is the theory that some people are just born evil, they cannot change. This allows us to judge that they are just evil and how unlucky for those that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t believe that people are born evil. I believe we all have the propensity to behave in nasty ways to each other: it is part of being human. Actions start off as a thought process and if we don’t get control of what we are thinking, we all have the potential to go down a wrong path.

Cast your mind back to the riots in London a few years ago. Among the disaffected youths arrested for looting and violence, there were also reports of lawyers, bankers and shop workers, who crossed a line and decided to break the law that day, something they probably never set out to do. Until we are faced with a situation, we don’t know how we will respond and judging others by saying they are evil is not the answer.

The Charleston shootings were close to not happening. Dylann Roof was reported as saying he nearly didn’t go through with it because everyone he had sat with in the church gathering the hour beforehand had been so nice to him. But his hatred must have been deeply ingrained for him to murder those people. I watched the video this week that showed this baby faced killer, flanked by two police officers, being spoken to by the grieving families. He looked impassive as they wept and told him how they had forgiven him and urged him to repent. I cried watching it, not just because of how awful the shootings were, but because of the grace and mercy that the victim’s families – themselves victims - showed to this young man. They showed kindness when you could argue they were entitled to anger, hatred and revenge.

It’s challenged me: How do I react in my interactions with people or in the uninvited situations that arrive on my doorstep? The petty things in my life pale into insignificance in comparison. I can’t control what goes on in the world. But I can control how I react in my little world.

Out of atrocities there come moments of beauty. If they can respond to this atrocity with a moment of beauty, how much more should I be able to respond to life’s little upsets with forgiveness.