Orlando Massacre’s Silver Lining

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 2 sec

James 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)

Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Waking up Sunday morning to the news of the Orlando massacre where one man took the lives of 50 people and injured another 53 people was gut wrenching.

Today our country is more divided to me than at any other time in my lifetime. Seems like every group is saying if you just think like us all will be well.

One of the most difficult things I have wrestled with in my faith is the concept of Free Will and at the same time having a God who is totally omniscience. If God actually knows everything that can be known, then how can you have true Free Will?

If God allows for our Free Will how much should we allow each other to exercise Free Will?

I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

John 17:14-17 

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth.

The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

I have been really sad for many years as I watch those who call themselves people of faith not showing grace or love, but rather condemnation and hate of those who do not hold to their beliefs.

I watched as political parties wrapped themselves with what they call faith, but what I saw as condemnation of those who didn’t believe as they did.

John 13:35 The Message (MSG) 

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

To me this is one of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible. It tells us how we are to live our lives. Jesus says this at the last supper and before his arrest and crucifixion. So many of us are just like Peter when he said to Jesus –

36 Simon Peter asked, “Master, just where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.”

37 “Master,” said Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!”

38 “Really? You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times.”

Our purpose here is to not talk about our faith as much as we are to live it. Living it is to show the love of God through our actions with others.

The power of true love is most profound with great loss. The actions of the lone gunman in Orlando Night Club were extremely severe. Each time our country has suffered such a loss the community responds. The stories after 9/11 were a great healing to our country.

Our response should be that no matter who you are–your life matters and you matter. Our community will always suffer when anyone dies. We suffer even more when that loss is due to violence such as in Orlando.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250

This past memorial day we celebrated those who gave their lives through the armed forces that we can have the freedom for Free Will in our country. This is very personal for my family.

ON THE BEACH: The first wave of Marines takes cover behind the sand dunes on Saipan beach, during the World War II invasion of Marianas Islands. The soldier kneeling in the sand at far right is Carl Matthews of Texas; second from right is Wendal Nightingale of Skowhegan, Maine; standing is Lt. James Stanley Leary of North Carolina. Neither Nightingale nor Leary made it home from Saipan; both are still listed as missing in action. Time Life photo by U.S. Marine Sgt. James Burns

I think one of the hardest things our country is going through is for those who are new to the concept of being able to exercise their Free Will. This is because where many are from they were not able to enjoy such freedoms.

I am so thankful that I do not live in a Democracy but rather a Republic form of Government.

The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

A Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form, or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general. The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution–adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment–with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Here the term “the people” means, of course, the electorate.

Let us remember the words of James Madison on the regard of the republican form of government:

“As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”

It takes more thought and purpose to create laws than it does to just react. We think of how the law we create will impact everyone. We want those laws to benefit all of us. We are careful not to create a law that singles out one person, because one day that person could be us. We must be a community that values each person’s life.

The more I understand and study storytelling the more I see the importance of protecting the rights of people to make their own choices. I also see that for the main subject in a story to solve their own problem basically is not possible. They must have help. This is why my belief in God and community is at the core of a good story.