I’m sitting on my balcony in Arlington, VA staring at the Potomac River tonight. Right across it I can see the Nationals Stadium in Navy Yard. Just Monday, a lone gunman decided to take the lives of 12 people in the Navy Yard area for reasons no one really seems to know right now. He just did.
I was in Navy Yard tonight, and it was a bit of an eerie feeling. Just watching the chaos and heartbreak yesterday on the news in the same area I was walking in. Life as usual changed in an instant for many innocent people Monday. You can’t plan for that sort of thing to happen in your life. No one wakes up with their guard up against corruption of that sort.
Tragedies that grab national headlines like those, as you know, bring an onslaught of dialogue and debate. Especially online. How does everyone turn into an expert overnight? So many of us reach our verdicts and then look for the evidence to support our decisions instead of letting the evidence lead us to our verdicts. And then we’re so confident in what we’ve come up with that we feel we need to let everyone know what we’re thinking.
I’m all for letting your voice be heard (obviously… I write blog posts), but in situations like the Navy Yard shooting, people don’t need your political opinions and your ideologies. People in the midst of pain don’t need to hear whatever political information you just pulled off of Wikipedia.
To you who think your snarky opinions need to be heard on every controversial matter ever, I will say what a ton of your Facebook friends are thinking: Please, just shut up.
That’s all. Just stop. We don’t care. You might even be right, but you come off so arrogant and insensitive that it makes any truth you could be saying sound terrible and stupid. And so we don’t care.
Believe it or not, hurting people just might want to know they are not alone. I know that’s how I am when I am hurting or feel wronged. I want to know someone is going to stand with me. I want to know that someone truly cares. Your silence can say more than any words you feel like you just have to say.
The Bible says in Romans 12:15 to “Weep with those who weep.” I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not, that’s good advice. It doesn’t say, “Find the people who are weeping and tell them how you interpret the second amendment.”
We need to learn to shut up.
There’s a story in the Book of Job that sticks out to me. In the story, Job has just lost literally everything he has. All of his children are dead. His home and everything he owns are destroyed. He’s got awful sores on his skin. And it all happened suddenly.
He had three friends come to see him, and here is what the Bible says happened:
When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Now the Bible College students will be upset with me if I don’t also state that if you read the rest of the story, his friends go on to say some pretty unintelligent things. But besides that, I just think it is amazing how they responded. They just sat there in silence with him. For days. The next verse says that Job was the first one to talk.
I wish we would be people who were slower to speak and quicker to listen. Quicker to sit down in the dust with those who are hurting. Quick to know that they don’t need our opinions as much as they need our presence.