When Hurt People Hurt Other People

Another tragic hate crime. It’s almost too much to take.

In response to the Charleston shooting, I’ve seen people cast blame, lament racism, talk in circles about guns, and spew more hatred. It’s the easy thing to do.

I haven’t heard anyone say what they, as an individual, plan to do about it in a positive way. It’s impossible to make sense of such a horrific act. We overanalyze. We try to solve the global problem with sweeping statements, generalizations, and vague criticisms. How does this approach translate to solutions? Or real impact?

The individual often feels helpless. Talking heads look for someone else to make things better. Someone with more power or influence must change things.

The solution starts with you and me. The problem is complex and seems overwhelming. Still, I believe as individuals we have the ability to make an impact, no matter how close or how far we are from the actual tragedy.

Three years ago, I wrote about another tragic shooting spree. I’m sharing the post again, and asking you to join me in thinking about how you and I can help stop the cycle of hurt in our fallen world.

July 20, 2012

Early this morning, at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” 12 people were shot and killed in a senseless act of violence. James Holmes, 24, kicked down the emergency door at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, dropped some type of smoke bomb, and started shooting.

My heart aches. Can you imagine how hurt and lost someone must be in order to carry out such a horrific act?

Killing is the most severe form of hurting others. But if you think about it, we’re all guilty. We are all hurt people who hurt other people. It might be on a smaller scale, but it still counts. Every day we hurt friends, family, and strangers with our words, actions, or lack of action.

The world is full of hurt. And you can do something about it.

  • Stop the cycle. You’re in pain. It’s a fact. Everyone is hurting in some way, great or small. Don’t let your affliction cause you to hurt others. Make a decision right now. You will turn your pain into a reason to show others kindness. To help people. LOVE unloveable people. Causing others to suffer does not make your pain go away. It makes it worse.
  • Pay attention. Look outside your own circumstances and notice people around you. Reach out to someone who is hurting. Don’t wish them away. Or ignore them. You might be the only person who cares.
  • Forgive someone. We all have people in our lives who’ve deeply hurt us. When I harbor bitterness and anger, the only person it hurts is me. My favorite quote about forgiveness is this: “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The best way to free yourself of pain is to forgive in your heart. Remember, hurt people are the ones who hurt other people.
  • Get help. If you are the one in distress, ask for help. Talk to a friend. Call a professional. Do something about it. There are people who care. Seek them out. Things can get better. But you need to ask for help.

You can help change the world, one hurt person at a time. Will you join me?