I was reflecting on the tragedy that occurred yesterday. A gunman opened fire at a beach resort in the Tunisian coastal city of Sousse, killing at least 38 people before security forces killed him. The victims were workers and foreign tourists. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as for attacks at a mosque in Kuwait and a factory in France that occurred within hours of each other.
Something a coworker said yesterday got me thinking about this event. She said “It’s supposed to be a happy day, with the gay marriage decision, but did you hear about the shooting in Tunisia? It’s terrible. I wanted to go to Tunisia someday, but I can’t go now because it’s not safe.”
I did find it odd that evidently her first thought was not sympathy for the victims or concern for instability in a fledgling democracy, but how this event hinders her travel plans, but that’s a topic for another time. I started reflecting on how safety is a relative term. Are we not living in a country where just a week ago, nine people were killed in a church? There are people in this country that feel unsafe in their own communities or with their own government. There are people that feel unsafe with each other.
But no place is truly safe. In recent memory, we have seen a bombing in Boston, a shooting in Ottawa, a stabbing in Kunming. Schools, movie theaters, embassies, places of worship have all been targeted. Wars abound and innocent people die. For some, unfortunately, safety is a luxury. Even bearing in mind yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, there are couples that are afraid to hold hands in some places in this country out of fear of violent reprisal.
I am thankful to live without fear of instability or danger. I am thankful for the work and sacrifices of those who help guard this safety. But I am mindful that there are many others who do not feel the same. But what do I do?
It is written that Jesus said that those who try to secure their own lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for his sake will find them. I can go through life trying to fortify my own safety, to no avail, for no place is truly safe. But I believe that if I give my life for his charity, his mercy, his work, I will find true life. A life beyond meager self-preservation, given not for glory, riches, or renown, but an expression of his love for all.