Part of the Solution

Another shooting, this time at a university.

The killer is still at large. My daughter, 16, usually the pragmatic one, surprised me with her response to the news coverage.

“How sad your life must be to kill a buncha people.”

This made me think about something I learned in grad school as a counselor:

Never try to help someone you don’t have empathy for.

I remember the teacher writing down different types of perpetrators, masochists, and bullies on the whiteboard.

“If you don’t care about these people,” she said, slamming down her marker. “For God sake’s refer them to someone who does.”

This set off a murmur in the classroom, as we openly struggled with finding empathy for serial murderers and pedophiles.

But, ya know, we eventually found it. Those of us that tried, anyway.

I think we can all take a lesson from this.

There’s good in everyone. And where there’s bad stuff, it’s usually not just a morass of black evil. Rather, there’s a wrong turn somewhere, an index finger pointing, an unfinished conversation, a pattern of suffering. At some point, back in those soft years, there was a lack of empathy.

The only way to fix a hole is to fill it.

Little by little, we can do that for each other. Fill a little of the hole, or, at the very least, if we can’t bear to be part of the solution for that particular person, we can walk away and make space for somebody who can.