This is not the time to pick a side

The past two days I have sat and read, listened to and watched as I am sure many of you have, of another horrific shooting that occurred at what should have been a safe place.  As you can only imagine I look at this event and others so similar to them from a different view point.  As I watch, listen and read, all too familiar emotions stir in my soul.  Feelings I have now spent years working and trying to understand re-emerge and at this moment again seem beyond understanding.  Unfortunately, the shock that comes from such tragedies quickly wanes, people unaffected return to their normal lives.  I have seen in my own life, with my own eyes and have felt in my own heart the long lasting trauma that stays with you forever.  And not only in my own life but in those that are most precious to me and
in those that are around me and others also so truly victimized. With every such event I am humbled by good people, reaching out to do good things in support of those that are now beginning their new forever path.  Most of those people are genuine, with love in their hearts and express pure charity for those that are suffering.  I have felt and witnessed the love and hand of God in these very circumstances pour out and bless those so terribly hurt.  Those blessings are given freely because of His love for all of us and is done so regardless of race, religious denomination, political
affiliation, nationality, gender or sexual identification. I have also witnessed, tragically, and almost as instantaneously as that love is being expressed another side to such events.  At almost the same time as we look for answers and understanding there are those who start placing blame, pointing fingers, and giving opinions.  These people race to and pick a side.  They entrench themselves in long held biases and beliefs.  They quickly log in to a computer and begin
spouting out “facts” that only confirm their already long held beliefs and ignore, criticize or demonize those who feel or think differently than they.  They pick sides and run as far away from the middle line as possible.  People on both sides of every political, social or religious argument that arises form such events are equally as guilty and equally as responsible for the continuation of the hatred and needless loss of life and continued suffering.  Because by picking sides and refusing to budge only further separates us from each other.  This separation enables tragedies such as these to continue over and over with little or no positive change in sight.  This is not a time to pick a side.  This is not a time to continue down well worn paths leading to predetermined endings.  This is not a time to convince yourself again of what you already believe to be true and right.  This is not a time to allow our preconceived notions forge our future.

So please before running to Facebook and Twitter to publicly confirm what side you are on show some sympathy, even empathy if you can towards those that suffer.  Before reposting someone else’s thoughts and opinion as your own ask yourself what difference can be made and how can your unique talents and abilities help make that difference.

Evil events, and those that support and perpetrate them wish to further expand the abyss that already exists between us.  The power to stop that expansion lies in our ability to turn from our chosen side and work together.  I believe that everyone can agree that senseless killings of innocent lives is not a political issue.   We can all agree that things like this should never happen and families should never have to feel a loss or pain such as those families are today or have been for years.

There is not one solution to these events.  The answer or problem is not just guns.  The answer or problem is not just brain health.  The answer or problem is not just about securing our schools.  There are many problems that will require many different solutions that need to come from all of us working together.   The question is do we really
have the strength to care enough, to look at the dark truth that no one wants to acknowledge and come together to make a difference?  Do we have the courage to work together with those that oppose our personal opinions with humility working towards a common goal? This is not the time to pick a side.  This is a time to come together, to fill the divide that is trying to separate us and put forth the work necessary to make real significant life saving changes.  This is the time to support those that are suffering and let them know that their lives and the lives of those lost matter more than our opinion,
view or personal politics.  Are you willing to put aside your differences and come to the middle ground, roll up your sleeves, and put in the work necessary?  If we can’t then we are all part of the problem and the responsibility for the tragedies such as these rests upon all of us.

To those of you in Roseburg, Oregon.  We are so sorry for what you have and will continue to experience.  We love you, we pray for you and we are here for whatever you need.

Robbie Parker