I’ve lived in Mickeyville a good while.
We’ve kidded about Orlando being just that since we moved here. The City Beautiful. Vacation destination. The escape plan for many snowbirds.
Our newspaper refers to us now as part of the fraternity of U.S. cities who’ve experienced terrorism. Not a moniker any city wants to claim. It’s a label that speaks of hatred, pain, loss. The disappearance of safety.
When I became aware of what had happened this past weekend, I was stunned. Orlando? The home of Mickey, Minnie and Harry Potter? We’re not a Washington, DC or a Chicago. We’re Franchise Row, where new and unusual struggles to be recognized. We’re the place people come to feel comfortable.
We’re no different from the rest of the world.
I don’t know why I’m shocked. Hatred has been going on since the beginning of time, when Cain didn’t like the fact that his brother, Abel, offered a better sacrifice than him. So he killed him.
We’ve not seen the invention of terrorism. Hatred. Cruelty. We’ve only resurfaced it. Rebranded it. Given it a fresh identity.
And with it, new fear.
I don’t agree with a lot of things happening in the world. I’m deeply opinionated. (There’s a surprise.) And I have strong convictions.
One of which is the sanctity of human life. That we’ve all been created in the image of God. With value and dignity.
What we choose to do with that value and dignity is the responsibility each of us have.
When I was growing up, there were pithy sayings my folks would repeat to us again and again. “You can’t catch flies with vinegar.” “It costs nothing to be kind.” “Don’t give your word unless you plan to keep it.”
The big one was the Golden Rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Matthew 7:12. Jesus commented that this little gem summed up the wisdom of the Law and the Prophets. Everything of value the Jews had learned up to that point.
This isn’t rocket science. If I want to be treated with kindness by others, I should treat others with kindness.
In a perfect world, free from anger and hatred, this would work.
This isn’t a perfect world.
Someone’s anger and hatred led to a sense of entitlement that gave permission to kill people he didn’t agree with.
That attitude isn’t sustainable.
I disagree with a lot of people. The way they do things. Their choices. I can get aggravated over certain situations.
But the right to end anyone’s life hasn’t been given to me.
That’s God’s responsibility.
I’m hoping that, instead of trying to push one agenda over another, we’ll learn to see each other through the lens of kindness. Seeing the value in each human life. Disagreeing isn’t bad. It leads to great discussions and discoveries. People can change their minds.
Being made in the image of God, this attitude of kindness can only happen with His help.
People do matter.
If not, we’ll spend our lives looking over our shoulder. Wondering who’s angry enough with us today to take us out.
I’m not willing to live like that.