This past weekend here in Nova Scotia a person who turned out to be a terrible terrible man did a terrible terrible thing. After the dust settled he was dead and so were at least 22 other people. Many hundreds more lost a close family member, thousands more lost a friend and millions more Nova Scotians and Canadians had a part of their world shattered too. We don’t know much about why he did what he did and what reason could ever really explain it? But we do know many (most) of those people were chosen at random, he worked for a long time to plan it all meticulously and now our little province is home to Canada’s largest mass shooting if you can even call it that.
No matter what we find out in the coming weeks and months something like this could never really make any sense at all. Realistically there was really no way this could have been caught before hand, there was no perfect way for a tiny rural RCMP detachment to respond to a mass shooting that didn’t follow even one things that mass shooting usually do and there really isn’t much that can be done about it now that will change anything. But it was also such a big and such an incredibly rare event in Canada that it’s something that really is going to touch us all too. None of us are numb to any of it.
Just like there are no reasons that will ever start to explain what this man did there aren’t words big enough to describe it. Sometimes life is like that there just aren’t words to describe how you feel and how your feeling for people you’ll never know. That fact just has to be okay at times like this. It seems trite to say it’s sad but that’s the biggest word we have to describe it. Sure we can add modifiers like it’s so sad the lives that were lost, unimaginably sad for the people who were left behind and its incredibly sad for all the little communities where all of this occurred. It’s also a very complicated kind of sad for the killer’s family and friends too. How do you carry that through the rest of your life and not second guess things every day after? But none of those words are enough, those words just don’t exist.
There also isn’t anything to say to make it better right now even if I could talk to all the people who are grieving such a senseless act so deeply right now. The best that I can muster is to know that everyone, everyone around the world as soon as they heard about this horrible act have been thinking about all of you since. Some of us are praying for you, others are donating, some are leaving flowers but all of us around the world are thinking about you and wishing you any comfort we can under the circumstances. I hope that this weekend we can all take some time to reflect on all the ways hate in our world makes it worse. Living with hate makes your life worse, the lives of those around you worse and the whole world worse off for it. That’s true of the most extreme examples like this and the hate that seems so trivial and banal right now too. The only thing most of us can do to to honor the victims of tragedies and respond to something like this is to let go of some hate in our own lives. Whether it belongs to you, you participate in someone else’s or you simply respond to it. Find a way to minimize hate in your life because that is always so much more powerful than words can ever be.