“To gaze into another persons face is to do two things: to recognize their humanity and to assert your own.” ~ Lawrence Hill
Today, I was reading over the most tragic story of a woman who’s 13 month old child was shot and killed—a victim of street violence and a robbery gone bad.
Sherry West had been walking her infant son in his stroller, when, in broad daylight she was approached by two males.
And when this young mother pleaded that she hadn’t any money in her purse, these two thugs shot her young baby at close range and right between the eyes.
I had to pause for a moment, and read those words over twice again—as I was stunned, shocked, and shattered.
I simply can not yet comprehend the evil it takes to shoot a child in front of his Mother. But, this is just one of the very many headlines that seem to plague this most beautiful world.
And yet, we must always still find a way to preserve all the love left in this world.
For some reason, this particular headline brought me right back to the evening of December 8, 1980—a night, I shall always remember so very well. It was the night John Lennon was gunned down in front of his home—standing next to him, was his loving wife and soul mate. I was laying in bed in my room, all of just 12 years old, when I heard the breaking news over the television set,
“An unspeakable tragedy. Confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of the Beatles. Shot twice in the back. Rushed to Roosevelt’s Hospital.”
And then, the announcer paused just a moment to say, these three words that I shall never forget,
It was the first time I remember feeling such an overwhelming sense of helplessness—at the loss of a most beautiful human life, and one that was barely half-lived.
It was also the very first time I questioned my very own faith—not in God, but rather, humanity. I found myself questioning the very depth of humanity’s moral sense.
And, in reading this story once again today—I felt this very same sense of helpless ‘brokeness.’
When I look into a person’s face, I see their humanity; I feel the energy of their spirit. I see the shimmer of their past in the creases of their face, and in doing so I can see their heart’s fullest potential.
But most importantly, and beyond everything else—I see myself reflecting back through their vision. And, in a sense, I suppose it shall always be the case—that their eyes become my ‘mirror.’
I don’t understand how others can not feel this same way—do they not see humanity staring back in those glimpses?
I have always believed that peace comes from within; that as long as our spirits are ‘right’ with this world—everything else will fall into its place.
And yet, today I am hear and left wondering…has “humanity’s mirror” become irreparably shattered?
I asked a friend this morning, and over our morning decaf,
“Is it enough to simply feel peace within while this sort of tragedy senselessly continues? Is what I am doing really enough?”
To which he offered just these few short words of advice,
“You know Tara…compassion, without vision…is like a butterfly without use of its wings. Without vision, how will it know where to go. How will it find it’s way forward? It’s people like you who help to give humanity a clear vision.”
So very true—we need a vision to know our ‘way forward.’ Perhaps, that’s why I felt so impacted by the loss of a man and musician I had never once met? Because, I knew he so carefully minded humanity’s vision.
So, how do we respond to such a senseless tragedy? Perhaps, with a fearless open-heartedness.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon
Bonus Video, and My Own Personal Vision: John Lennon’s Imagine.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta