America has been mourning the deaths of nine victims in the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, that happened on Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, the police’s manhunt for the alleged shooter came to an end when florist Debbie Mills spotted Dylann Roof in a car in Kings Mountain, NC, and reported her sighting to police. In the days since the shooting, federal authorities have been investigating the attack as a hate crime.
If it weren’t for Mills, the police could still be searching for the suspect. Thankfully, she had been watching plenty of news coverage on the shooting and had been praying for the impacted people before she spotted Roof in a nearby car. She noticed the South Carolina license plate and Roof’s haircut before reaching out to her boss, who contacted the police.
Thank goodness Mills was paying attention to the world around her!
Currently, I watch or read the news every day. However, there have been times in my life in which I haven’t always been so attentive to current events. In the past when I had a major project or other responsibility causing stress, I filtered out the rest of the world as I dealt with my individual issue for a few days or longer.
I would’ve told you that I was doing it in the name of self-care. Even if that intention was true, could you imagine what would’ve happened if someone like I had encountered Roof on the streets? I could’ve looked him straight in the eyes and not had a clue that he fit the description of a crime suspect.
I understand that life may be so busy that it is hard to keep track of every news story locally, nationally, and internationally, but at least try if you aren’t already. Furthermore, paying attention to the world around you doesn’t just include listening to the news. It’s also being mindful of the people in your immediate world–whether they include family members, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or random people you bump into on the streets.
Why is this important?
In my last post, I argued that it was important to pay forward help you have received in managing stress. The truth is you can’t pay it forward to anyone if you are not highly aware of other people’s needs. You wouldn’t feel compelled to read an article titled Here’s How You Can Help the Families of the Charleston Shooting Victims and donate accordingly unless you were aware that there was a Charleston shooting. If you’re a person of faith, you couldn’t pray as Mills did unless you were aware of the manhunt for the shooter.
If we forget about the world around us for too long, we risk losing our connection to the grand scheme of things. We risk missing out on opportunities to better ourselves and our world.
Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
You need to learn about the world first. Then you could identify what change you wish to be.
In light of the Charleston shooting, what change do you wish to be?