In the wake of another human-scripted, violent tragedy we seek to understand and to discover a response. Already our news media has the talking heads expressing their whys of the matter and their experts weighing in regarding policy actions. Social media is aflame with moral outrage and finger pointing. All of these actions arise from our human need to dissect the event, understand its implications and then reapply control within our world. Yet now is not the time for all these. There will be time for that.
Our first response is for the victims, the first responders and their families. These are the ones who are most immediately affected. Their immediate lives have been changed by the trauma that they have endured. Their assumptions of safety and personal security as they move through each day have been altered. Very likely, persistent images of the event will stay with them and interrupt their days. A haunting awareness of their surroundings and a jumpiness that comes with sudden sounds or movements might burden them daily. Avoiding the memories surrounding the tragedy can be their coping mechanism of choice.
Our second response is to understand that the images that are so prevalent in the media and our social media feeds have an impact upon those of us who were not there as well. We too may wonder about our personal safety and security. We as well are seeing those cell phone images every time we see a video screen. We are subject as well to the anxiety such tragedy fosters within the wider community. Ours is not the same intensity or frequency but there is no mistaking the effect upon the community as a whole.
Let us be proactive with such a tragedy. Let us mourn what we have lost. Let us sit with the sorrow and pain that is a part of the unfathomable. Let us remain connected to one another, supporting one another by holding in the midst of this trauma our humanity and our need to grieve. This is the work that must come first so that we will discern what is next.