When I was five years old I first began to engage in a conversation about passion, love, anger, hurt and death. The Industrial Arts teacher at our school had come home to find his wife was having an affair with another man. He killed his wife, and killed himself with his shotgun. Our whole community was affected; all of us, from very young to very old,were shaped by these events.
In the summer of my seventeenth year, all of Southern Ontario was affected by the horrible murders of Lesley Mahaffy and Kristen French by serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. To a greater extent, the society and community in which I lived was terrified, horrified, and transformed by the acts of violence and destruction.
This month, in our province, in fact, in my hometown of Conception Bay South, again I witnessed the destruction of lives and of community safety due to the murders of Julianne Hibbs and Vince Dillon.
Each of these instances of loss of life that I recall has been shaped by passion. We must be reminded that one of the meanings of passion in English means ‘suffering.’ All of the people in these instances suffered. Whether they took life or had life taken from them, they suffered. Many of the instances of violence in these ways are shaped by mental illness. The suffering that occurs shapes individuals, communities, and cultures.
We as human beings, as the people of God, as people in communities together, need to respond to passion with compassion. We need to suffer with others, to begin to understand the challenges and changes that may occur when mental illness is prevalent in individuals. We need not be afraid or shun those affected by the varieties of mental illness. We need to find ways to open conversation and challenge society and each other. The challenge we need to address is how do we seek justice in such horror? How do we shape our communities so that acts of violence against women and the vulnerable can be eradicated?
This is my story – my history as a witness to the presence of violence in society. This is our story as well. We need to address suffering by coming alongside all who are affected.
That is why I ask for strength, as I pray for
- The Industrial Arts Teacher
- His wife
- Lesley Mahaffy
- Kristen French
- Paul Bernardo
- Karla Homolka
- Julianne Hibbs
- Vince Dillon
- Brian Dawe
I pray for these, and for all their families and friends, as we deal with the presence of evil in society that leads to passion.
May we continue to have compassion in this, God’s world.