Culture

How Lament Quells the Terrorist in Each of Us

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“No, no, no. Praying . . . “

This simple, human post by a friend on Facebook was how I first learned about the Orlando shooting.

As I scrolled to see the reactions of other friends, I was strangely encouraged.

“My heart is breaking.”

“Lord, heal our brokenness.”

“Grieving . . .”

“Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy.”

I was surprised, in a forum like Facebook, to find a place to mourn among friends. (Usually on days like this I avoid the finger pointing and political tirades of social media.)

Here’s why I found this outpouring of emotion especially meaningful:

Yes, there are things to talk about—gun policy, the LGBTQ community, terrorism, religious hate—and there is work to be done.

But first: lament. Before this is about Muslims or gay people or gun rights, this is about human beings—the shooter and the victims.

Here’s why lament is vitally important: lament strips us back to our human selves. Underneath all our vitriol and desperate efforts to explain and fix the crisis, there are human hearts that are saying “I’m sad” or “I’m scared” or “I’m confused.” When we jump straight to fixing and explaining, we miss the opportunity to be human. We continue the violence.

When we jump straight to fixing and explaining, we miss the opportunity to be human. Click To Tweet

Lament feels like a waste of time but it’s directly connected to the problem we’re lamenting. Because underneath all the violence and anger that drives people to commit such atrocities there are human hearts that are saying “I’m sad” or “I’m scared” or “I’m confused.” When they jump straight to fixing, they also miss the opportunity to be human.

Although it’s odd, I’m rejoicing to hear lament. Because it’s a common thing for privileged westerners to jump to explaining and fixing. But when we, in the most powerful nation in the world, can lament, then at last we begin to remember what it is to be human.

We remember our need for a power beyond our own. So that when we do turn to our own intellect and action to respond to a crisis—and there is certainly a time for action—we will do so without that quick-fix mentality, that desperate effort to take matters into our own hands. And as we do, we’ll learn how lament overcomes our own terrorism.

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