I think about empathy.
With the news of 3 dead at the hand of a gunman at Mercy hospital people say that it is "sad". It is sad that Samuel Jimenez a police officer on the job for 2 years with three young children is dead. It is sad that Tamara O'Neal an emergency room physician is dead. It is sad that Dayna Less a pharmacy resident is dead because she stepped off the elevator at the wrong time.
With all due respect it is not sad. It is soul-gutting and it is our job as we bear witness to think of it as more than sad.
Radical empathy is required.
Imagine being the police officer's wife and receiving the news. Imagine the phone call if you are Ms. O'Neal's family or Danya Less' parents or friends. Think about the next few days; a holiday weekend irrevocably changed not just this year but every year moving forward. Imagine Mr. Jimenez's wife sitting their three children down and explaining their father is dead. Imagine how many times she will have to answer, "Where's Daddy?" "When is Daddy coming back?" because kids don't understand death. Why should they?
There are no more sanctuaries in America. I feel as if I am a phone call away from the news that I've lost a loved one to gun fire. I feel as if I am a moving target and at any time a door will open and a gunman will forever change my life or end it. I am nearing a state of mind where it's not a matter of "if" but "when" and I'm trying to live in this space so perhaps the news won't be as shocking.
Chicago Tribune's Heidi Stevens writes:
"Now it’s time for Chicago to help heal their families. We owe them that. I watched this city wrap its arms around my friend Erin, when her husband, Cmdr. Paul Bauer, was killed in February...I know this city’s heart. It breaks, over and over. Especially today. But its capacity for loving and lifting its people is infinite. Let’s get to work."
What can we do for families losing loved ones to gun violence every day? It runs the gamut from activism, paying your respects at their funerals or even setting a place for them at your Thanksgiving table.
Most certainly we can think of it as more than sad.