Fear Not

I was hiking in the desert when I heard the news that a gunman had shot 20 or so people ---- killing some and gravely wounding others.

Over the coming hours and days new details about what happened emerged both in the media and in conversations with friends and family.

It seemed everyone knew the victims or at least someone who did.

Of course murder by gunshot is nothing new in Tucson.

People shoot each other here all the time, just as they do in the rest of America .

On New Year’s eve, the sound of small arms fire in Tucson is as common as fireworks.

Guns are also routinely trafficked across the border to Mexico in exchange for drugs and money.

In the remote desert, gunshots can often be heard, echoing off the rocks. So common in fact that I know of places where I can play music to their accompaniment on almost any day of the week.

But this one was personal and hit home with people across the country.

Partially because some of the victims were public figures. Partly because it all seemed so random. But I think mostly because deep down we all suspected something like this was bound to happen eventually.

Some say it was the fault of easy access to powerful guns.

Others say it was the violent political rhetoric and fear mongering that gripped the last election cycle.

As for myself, I think many factors played a roll in focusing the madness that was already brewing in the gunman and an exact cause will never be known.

When someone decides to destroy, they will find a way to do so.

If not with a gun then perhaps with a knife.

Or maybe a bomb.

Or perhaps something commonplace like a plane full of passengers on an impossibly beautiful fall day.

To my mind the tools of destruction matter less than the emotion that leads us to destroy.

And that emotion is hate.

Which is birthed by fear.

Fear of ideas.

Fear of otherness.

Fear of change.

When fear grips the soul, giving in to hatred and destruction can seem empowering.

But it never is.

Just as destruction will never eradicate the fear that one feels.

Creation, however, is difficult.

To create one becomes vulnerable.

To create one is open to new ideas and possibilities.

To create one is not afraid to love.

None of these things are ever easy.

Those who were shot or killed in Tucson were creators.

They were the same people you will find anywhere on the planet, simply going about their days on a warm Saturday, trying to create a better society and a better world.

Some did this though politics.

Others by living a good life.

The true motives of what happened in Tucson will never be known.

And what happened can never be undone.

But perhaps from this moment something new will take hold.

Perhaps we'll all learn to create a little more and to hate a little less.

And perhaps someday we will be brave enough not to need all these guns anymore.