How do I respond?
I deliberately juxtaposed the question, “How do I respond?” with the narrative of “We grieve,” because grieving calls us back from our isolation and into community. We experience loss only because we are connected as family, friends, city, culture, nation, and more. And, while each of us may grieve in solitude, we do so with the knowledge of a supportive community. It’s what Parker Palmer calls a “community of solitudes:” we do our own work while supporting and supported by others doing their own work.
Yet, grieving takes time. Before we fully grieve one event, another occurs: hurt upon hurt upon hurt upon…. So, we ask:
“How do I move on when I’m layered with grief upon grief upon grief upon grief?”
This is the place where the road divides between the well-worn path of reaction and the less traveled road of response.
The path of reaction demands quick action with high emotion. It’s like walking down a city street (think Broadway or the Las Vegas Strip): electric and highly charged, offering a variety of in-your-face messages competing for your attention. The exciting path of reaction feeds the allure of “breaking news” not only to watch on our media channels but also to participate in via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Reaction is fast, intense, short-lived, and exhausting.
The road of response demands that we pause, take a deep breath, and consider. It’s like walking down a forest path: buzzing with sounds of life and existing within complex ecosystems that depend upon neighboring ecosystems and offer the opportunity to engage and participate. The studied road of response feeds our longing to be united and recognizes that, deep down, we are dependent upon one another. Response is measured, thoughtful, sustainable, and energizing.
There will always be reactions with their accompanying pronouncements and slogan wars. Reactions, however, rarely lead to the change that they demand. Responses aren’t flashy and are too complex for 60-second news segments. Yet, they offer us hope for long-term, sustainable improvement.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The only way to a peaceful life is by living peacefully. Azim Khamisa
Here’s a brief post that captures a poignant moment describing how we grieve together (read now). For more on the grieving process, read this.