I’m very mindful, as I sit at my computer this morning, of the utter horror of last weekend’s shooting in Las Vegas. My emotions vacillate from shock to anger to sadness that something so inhumane can happen, yet again, in America. Such events occur all too frequently and effect each of us deeply as we search for answers not only to why but how to prevent them from happening again. Because there are no easy answers it becomes easy for us to feel increasingly unsafe, powerless, and cynical about the state of the world.
But I want to suggest we not walk down that path. It does not serve us nor our families. Yes, there is much malevolence in the world and certainly those who are directly impacted are going through untold physical and emotional trauma. But there is also much that is wholesome about the world and I want to suggest that most of our lives are enveloped by the goodness of life and kindnesses of our fellowman far more than their betrayals or evils.
I recall that just over a year ago I lay in a hospital bed in India recovering from my angioplasty. The whole affair had mentally shaken me because it was unexpected and I didn’t know what it meant for my future. And yet, the night after my surgery, I had an incredible and comforting experience as I became acutely aware of the support systems in place to save and bless my life.
This particular night I felt a huge gratitude for the bed on which I was lying (don’t laugh) which offered me physical comfort and support. But it was more than the bed. I felt grateful for the inventor, assembler, and salesman of the bed. And I felt an overwhelming gratitude for the many kind nurses doing their best to make me comfortable and restore my health…for the doctor and even all the medical professors who taught him well…for years of medical research…for maker of the medical equipment and those small, drug-emitting stents that increased my chances of survival. The list goes on and on. I am indebted to the inventiveness and labors of literally thousands of unseen people that made a difference in my care. For them, I shed a few tears of gratitude that night.
Of course, those systems were not in place just for me. They came from the efforts of so many people simply doing their jobs, so many of them choosing careers and doing work that would make a difference in the lives of thousands of people.
As I pause to reflect, I get that each of us is blessed daily by the efforts of literally thousands of unknown people who have contributed to the societies in which we live. In spite of events such as the shooting in Las Vegas, I believe that most of us are far more blessed than maltreated by our fellow men and women. Knowing this doesn’t undue the reality of the pain of those who suffer. Nor our responsibility to reach out and help. But it does give me the needed perspective to remember the good that is happening in my life and recognize all the ways in which life and the actions of others bless and support me.