Prayers for Las Vegas — overcoming hatred

A woman sits on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Ethan Bearman

I wake up each day and thank God for the opportunity to walk a path worthy of His blessing. Today, I awoke and saw the news from Las Vegas that at least 50 people are dead and more than 400 injured from the largest mass shooting in American history.

Upon hearing the news, I felt like Iron Eyes Cody in the PSA Keep American Beautiful. Where he had a tear drop because of the pollution he saw, mine is for us and the hatred we sow day after day.

Hatred is inside each of us. There are many in this world who don’t address it, but instead shamefully slam it on to others. Some falsely see hatred as strength.

It is not. Hatred is an ancient human feeling that has lead to immense suffering and death over the millennia. There are even neuroscientists who study how the brain operates in a state of hatred toward another. One study has proven that when we hate we become obsessive-compulsive and judgmental. A tremendously bad combination if there ever was one.

It is up to us to make the change individually, as a society and as humanity.

First, ask yourself why you are so angry? Psychologists have found that our own hatred is caused by fear of “The Other,” fear of ourselves and self-loathing. Second, what has happened to you that you feel this way? Simply addressing the hatred begins the process of minimizing it. Feeding hatred becomes a problem for everyone.

Here in the United States we have a shameful history of pitting people against “The Other” to redirect our real problems onto someone unlike us. Tapping into ancient tribalism that someone different might be a threat instead of dealing with the actual problems at hand.

Right now, we have a president doing just this. Blame the Mexicans, blame the Muslims, blame the people of Puerto Rico, look everywhere else but inward. It has rallied many people to hate in way I’ve never seen in my lifetime. I’ll get hate messages just for writing this.

President Trump’s method of blaming others has successfully been used by autocrats and dictators around the world for millennia, with varying levels of success beyond the short term.

I’m genuinely scared for our country right now. So many people are full of hate. The mass murderer in Las Vegas was undeniably full of hate. We don’t know why and may never know why the gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, acted upon his hatred in this way.

But, I do know this. Standing idly by won’t help. Quietly allowing others to preach hatred won’t help. Being scared silent won’t help.

Now is the time to use love, knowledge and our voice to stand up to hate from all corners like we’ve never had to do before.

Love is the most important piece. Love wins in the end. Love is light. Love is good. Love is the antidote to hatred.

Knowledge is the data behind the communication. Get your facts straight first (I’ve taken “the Pro-Truth Pledge“). Having accurate information is critical to the message getting through. Otherwise people filled with hatred will focus on the one little point you might have wrong instead of the bigger context of the message.

Our voice must be used individually and collectively to counter hatred. Whether it is one-on-one with a friend or family member, in a Facebook group, or on the radio, whatever the medium and audience, now is the time to use your voice. I’ll use mine and now I need you to use yours.

Together we can make a difference shining light in this darkness. Always leading with love from a source of knowledge, our voice can ring clear to part the clouds. Now is the time to face down hatred while we pray, think of, and help the victims in Las Vegas.

 

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