Ending the Fear that Inspires Violence


My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Orlando Florida, as I’m sure yours does also.

I think I understand why some people in this country want to do something “big,” something that will turn all eyes in the media to them, if only for a moment. So much in our culture promotes and celebrates standing out in that way.

I also understand that needing to be recognized and feeling like a non-person without that kind of recognition is a sign of inner turmoil and lack of self esteem.

I hear that the shooter had a young son, as I do.

I don’t understand why that wasn’t enough for him, why he felt he had to “be somebody” more than that.

I think I understand the impulse to be a hero, and to take a bold action in support of a cause that you hold dear.

I don’t understand why the shooter would think that killing unarmed people would be heroic. I don’t understand what he hoped to accomplish, or who he thought he would be in the eyes of his son.

I know that the US is bombing cities and homes on the other side of the world, and that innocent people with names and families and lives that should have held promise are dying because of those bombings.

I understand  that maybe, maybe, that violence seems equally obscene to those who would shoot innocent people here in this country.

I understand that being afraid for your life can make some people do violent things to protect themselves.

And I know that the words, “don’t give in to hate” have incredible power.

My teacher, Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminded us of a saying, as we held vigil for the victims and their families on Sunday: “The Nazis have no tribe.”

I understand that Muslim communities all over the US and abroad have similarly held vigil, and that many have issued statements condemning the violence and offering condolence to the victim’s families.

People who do incomprehensible violence to others have no tribe.

They are people with names.

Misguided, fearful people with names.

To say they have no tribe does not mean to make them outcast. But to recognize that they are people who do not stand in for their nation, or their religion, even if they claim national or religious motivation.

I understand that in its essence, the purpose of religion is love, no matter what religion. And I understand that the purpose of nation is community, which is a bond of love.

To take an innocent person’s life away in the name of these values is to misunderstand these values.

I know that hatred and violence have never solved anything.

Yet here we are again.

The tears we cry for the victims and their families can also include the families on the other side of the world whose lives are torn by war.

I know that the work we do within ourselves, although it seems small, to release the secret fears, the jealousy and envy, the anger we all hold, whatever the reason – this work makes a difference.

Because it is not nations who resort to violence. It is people.

People do not resort to violence, either collective or individual, unless driven by an inner wound that has not healed.

So today I pray for healing for all those involved, which means every one of us, that we will find our way through the process of healing the wounds that we carry. So that we can help others. So that our names are never counted among those with no tribe, but instead among the list of people – of all tribes – who love and care for each other.

So may it be for me, and so may it be for you, and so may it be for all of us.


Erin Menut, MA, E-RYT
Yoga, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Equine Facilitated Learning


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