When 6 Degrees Of Separation Meets Terror In My Town

by | Jun 15, 2016

Once again we’re all asking what in the world can be done about the atrocity of terrorism?

And now I’m asking myself what can I, an average, middle- aged, American woman possibly do about the horrendous murder of innocent people that suddenly put my beautiful city at the top of every news feed in the world?

How on earth is it even possible that just blocks from where our family has shopped and worshiped for decades and feet from where we have dined, the worst mass shooting in US history just took place?

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It seems that despite however evolved we think we are as a culture, however, many laws we pass or lobbying we do or wars we fight or sanctions we impose, evil still somehow finds a way to beat the system to steal, kill and destroy. Except, in this twisted case, the person responsible for this attack actually believed he was doing a good deed in the fight against evil.

Utter madness!

Right about now a lot of me would like to give into despair.

But I want to take the long view.

Before I get caught up in all the rhetoric and fallout from this nightmare – which I am very tempted to do- my faith first asks me to take a good long look at my own life. I don’t much like this. It seems like missing the point and a poor use of time.

After all, I’m not the problem here, I’m one of the good guys. Plus it’s far easier (and more satisfying) to gawk at the wicked, senseless, uncivilized goings on of other people.

I don’t know about you but I’m really skilled at this amazing trick of spotting all the wrong in the world (say, the wrong approach to foreign policy or hate crimes or guns) while at the same time blocking even the slightest acquaintance with my own terroristic tendencies. 

Thank God, at least I’m not like _________.

I don’t actually say this out loud, of course. I’m too nice a person for that.

But, if anyone could speak to us on how to outsmart terror it’s SomeOne who lived in one of most brutal times in history and died at the hands of one of the most murderous governments ever chronicled. That Guy says it would be more profitable for me and for the world if I were to spend more time taking stock of my own brokenness, bitterness, anger, hate, and need for control.  And that maybe I should sit a bit with the truth that “as a person thinks in her heart so is she.”

Wait. You mean the anger in my heart basically gives me the same mindset as a killer?

I’m going to balk at that suggestion. (But, hey, have you seen ________?!  Now that person is deadly.)

Again that bludgeoned, mangled Man pleads from his torture device, “Clean the inside of your own cup.”  “Take the plank out of your own eye.”  “Love your enemy.” “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

With all the emphasis on what we should be “doing” to rid our nation of terror, we’ve forgotten why it’s still so imperative that we mind our own ways of “being.”

“Above everything else, guard your heart. Everything you do comes from it.”  

Proverbs 4:23

Before you think your one single, good-hearted life has no affect on the balance of global safety remember the six degrees of separation.

This theory pretty much works if we can assume every person on earth knows at least 44 people, and each of those people knows an entirely new 44 people, and so on. The math shows that in just six steps everyone could be connected to 7.26 billion people – more than are alive on Earth today.

There is actually research now that suggests with the mobility of the world population that six-degree separation might even be shrinking.

So, even if this theory is just half right, it’s not such a silly idea that who I decide to be as an average, middle- aged, American woman could actually influence world peace.

The vast majority of us will never be in a position to legislate or calculate strategies that impact the global order of things. And my once innocent hometown now sadly bears the mark of one rampant act of zealous hatred. But there is actually one very doable, tangible thing you can contribute to the war on terror.

Keep guarding, cultivating and giving your good heart away.

All of us are connected to you.

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