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The murders in Charleston last week coupled with the carnage committed elsewhere in this country and around the globe, are repugnant as killings and as instruments of racism. They are so aversive to my values and beliefs they leave me grappling with how to respond. I offer three thoughts.

The first is to share my unrest and invite your perspectives. How are you confronting these realities? What are your reflections, suggestions and actions?

Next, I seek to understand. If my head holds reasons why, my heart will more likely tap its courage for action. I believe that fear is the opposite of love. In order to alleviate our fears, most of us tend to affiliate with the familiar – faces, places, values and beliefs. Bolstered by our cohorts WE tend to define THEY as different and potentially threatening; we put THEM in the boxes of OTHER, where it is easier for us to control, manipulate, win, vilify or destroy. Our current politics and social media provide a mirror.

Another lens for understanding is our history and the values of those who settled this continent. Vestiges of their religious views, white patriarchy and slavery-based commerce persist today. A still larger lens would be to view our values and actions in relation to the survival of the planet.

Lastly, I am one individual with limited time. How do these events refocus me on my soul’s journey? Buddhism teaches that one root of suffering is aversion. Luke reminds Christians that the kingdom of God is a destination within each of us (17:21). Exploring those things that are most aversive may help my heart discover a new depth of love within and the courage to shine its brightness into the darkness without.