Thou shall not kill. I think that rule was sandwiched between, “make your bed,” and “brush your teeth,” when I was growing up. It’s so painfully obvious. It’s common sense.
While I don’t love making the bed and I used to try to get out of brushing my teeth as a kid, never once has it crossed my mind to kill another human being.
It’s become apparent by the constant barrage of CNN Breaking News alerts I’ve been getting to my phone lately, that there are quite a few people who appear to have grown up with a different set of rules.
Too often, in the past few months especially, my Facebook feed has been one paragraph starting with, “I wasn’t gonna post anything about all this stuff going on, but…” followed by another. People are fed up, angry, heartbroken and confused. They ask, “why?” They change their profile pictures to show support for whatever nation is broken this time, and they end their paragraphs with hashtags like, “#enoughisenough.”
Sadness and anger in response to people dying is an expected and common reaction. When we humans are sad, we tend to seek camraderie. The likes and loves and comments help us feel connected and heard. We like to be reminded that there are still good people in the world; we’re not alone.
Thankfully, the topic of tragic death isn’t one that typically inspires arguments in our comment threads. Well, perhaps the occasional gun control dispute, depending on the circumstances, but ultimately, this isn’t a Trump vs. Hillary or Kim vs. Taylor situation, where petty arguments can be found everywhere you look. This is a terminal complication of the human race.
Did Charles Darwin predict this as part of natural selection? Is this our very own, real-life Hunger Games? Or maybe it’s what the Bible was talking about – chaos and the anti-Christ and the rapture and all that. Or maybe we have no idea.
Because when 19 people are killed in a knife attack in Japan and nine people are shot dead at a shopping mall in Germany and 84 people are killed by a deranged man driving a truck and two people are killed in your very own neighborhood, all within 10 days, the only answer I’ve got is that we are humans and humans are capable of intense hatred.
It’s disgusting. It’s sad. It’s horrifying. It’s inexcusable and unexplainable and unnerving.
Here’s the unfortunate thing: the people who are killing are not just going to disappear. They will continue to share space with us on this earth and they will continue to have hate in their hearts and they will continue to find ways to wreak havoc and hurt others.
We can ponder “why?” and assume the motives, and try our hardest to understand how this can all be happening. We can pray, we can cry, we can try to comfort each other. We can hold each other’s hands, we can wipe each other’s tears, we can hug and we can be grateful for the life that we live. We can choose to love.
What we cannot do is continue to be surprised when this happens. We cannot push each other away by choosing to bicker over what or who is at fault when something like gun control comes up. The fact of the matter is that no matter what laws there are, people who want to kill, are going to kill. With guns. With knives. With trucks. We need to put our differences aside and love one another. Enough is enough.
I’m reminded of something I heard in a Ted talk by Simon Sinek once: The Law of Diffusion of Innovation. This law looks at innovations and how they are adopted. It involves something called “the tipping point,” which is when the innovation reaches a point where positive growth is inevitable.
The example he uses is Apple and the iPhone. Up to 34 percent of the population fall into the first two categories described by the law: innovators and early adopters, but once you hit that 34 percent mark, you’re into what’s called the “early majority,” and when viewed on a graph, you see that’s where the bell starts to move steadily upwards.
“The early majority will not try something until someone else has tried it first,” Sinek said in his talk.
What does this have to do with murders, you ask? While there are countries like Venezuela, that boast almost 50 murders per every 100,000 people, there have never been so many mass shootings so close to each other on the timeline, being shared with the world at the rate that they are now. These killers – these people whose hearts are filled with hatred – are seeing others succeed at killing, and they’re choosing to do it, too.
We may not be at 34 percent of the population murdering, but it sure feels like we’ve reached the tipping point.
There are almost 7.5 billion people on this planet. All unique, born into different cultures, with different features and skillsets and brains. With that many people, it is unrealistic to believe that these kinds of acts of violence are going to go away.
I wish that these past months of contemplation hadn’t brought me to this conclusion, but something about teenagers being shot dead mere miles away from where you lay your head to sleep, validates it. Enough is enough.
Call your Mom just to say hi. Hug your friends. Forgive. Be kind. Spread love. Choose to see the good in the world. Smile at strangers. Practice gratitude for the life you live. While you’re on this earth, make it worthwhile.