“Weep with those who weep” is such a short, simple statement.
Its simplicity should not be ignored because it can be uttered quickly. In light of recent events, to weep with those who weep does not mean simply saying or thinking “I’m sorry” during time of loss or sorrow. This time is to be respected and given the dignity of its process by those witnessing the aftermath of loss or tragedy.
Tragedy and loss are crippling and unwelcome. Such events witnessed by the public extend beyond comprehension and usually well beyond the information the public is given. When tragic loss of life is witnessed but not experienced firsthand, the public has diverse and confused reactions due to its limited involvement and spectator’s vantage point. While victims and survivors suffer devastation, the acts of hate, violence, or injustice arouse within most spectators indirect, empathetic reactions to the tragedy. The emotions and reactions are different and deeper for actual victims who experience these feelings in purest, direct form. Unless the spectator is involved directly in a tragedy, he/she cannot fully understand or know how to react to a situation. A spectator can never express grief or shock in the same way a victim will. The process for victims begins as they first cope with tragedy and then the following public reaction. There is nothing easy or painless about the process. The only certainty is that this process must run its course. There is only one thing a spectator can do within this process with complete understanding: weep with those that weep.
No more. No less.
I have read “weep with those who weep” all my life. Considering recent tragedies, I understand that this must be done without interference. These five, simple words are the only correct reaction to tragedy.
There is no saying “I am sorry” while offering explanations of tragic events.
There is no offering of condolence while rationalizing why tragedy happened.
There is no sympathy for victims while at the height of sorrow using that tragedy to springboard onto political issues.
There is no sorrow shared while the highest priority is sharing death or tragedy on national media.
There is no grief when grief is overcome by hunger for media sensationalism or revenge upon a tragedy’s perpetrator.
There is no sincere condolence while exercising public rage within reactionary outbursts on social media.
There is no solace given while making victims relive a tragic moment by publicly speculating if more prevention were possible.
There is no sadness shared in immediately placing blame for tragedy on a person, official, political idea, religious preference, or hypothetical situation.
There is no weeping with those who weep while declaring “God must be put back in schools (or govt., or anywhere)” – displaying a lack of faith through the message that one could possibly believe in God’s omnipresence and at the same time believe that He is not somewhere, that He would abandon a person or place, or that He can be removed from a place by a mere man.
There is no shared sadness in proclaiming “Jesus come back now, please” when He sent those proclaiming such a statement as His messengers of hope, His peacemakers, and distributors of His love – all here to serve in times of tragedy.
There is no sympathy in saying “I have to say or do something” if we skip the simplest, purest action man is called to practice during times of tragedy.
How callous are we to human sadness, suffering, and loss that we redirect our thoughts in a time of weeping toward a time of rage, upheaval, pontification, religious indoctrination, or political purpose? How shameful that those professing faith dare infer that God was not somewhere during tragedy by invoking His presence “back” to that place in time of suffering – as if He were never there, had been removed, or could possibly be blamed. Are we that eager to express our strongest personal platforms that we need to steal the spotlight from another’s tragedy during their time of need? Shame on those who are guilty. Apologies to those who have to unnecessarily bear a second burden created by the hands of those who speak and act this way.
There is a time to rest public voice, set aside foolish and indirect rage, lay aside political motives, put to rest all the “what I would have done in that situation” statements, stifle the attempts to place blame for not preventing tragedy on people/groups/ideas, give no credence or attention to the promotion of a tragedy’s notoriety, and simply do the one thing we are called to do: “weep with those who weep.”
No words necessary. Simply weep.
For christians this truth is equal to every truth we hold dear. It is as real as the earth and sky and should be as natural as breathing. It involves two parties: those weeping and those weeping with them. There should be no other parties involved or other time periods imposing weight or constriction during the need for weeping. This time deserves its own space without media attention and social media armchair reactionism. Respect of this time is, for lack of a better word, “sacred.” To everything there is a season. There is a time to break down and a time to build up – they are separate and equally important times. There is a time to weep and a time to mourn – to infringe on these times is simply not the right course of action, no matter how strong the cry for vengeance or the demand of media attention is. There is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing – knowing which time to embrace a certain person or issue is more important than the issue itself. There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak – being able to differentiate between the two allows us to “weep with those who weep” in truth and honesty without the excess baggage of rage and self-serving “free speech.” There is a time to love and a time to hate – knowing which time to exercise which act should eliminate bickering over the nonsense of political issues in order to promote the love that brings forgiveness, understanding, and healing in times of tragedy.
Perhaps knowing when to love and when to hate is the essence of weeping with those who weep. If to others we express sorrow for loss of a loved one by only expressing hate for a murderer, then we have served only ourselves, wrapping what we perceive as love within a package of hate. Love wrapped in hate is still “hate”. If we express love for those who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one by arguing the ins and outs of politically-based laws and constitutional clauses, we miss the forest for the trees. If we try to comfort another and express God’s love by proclaiming that man should bring Him back to a certain place, we make null and void the essence of His now questionable love and provide the very basis of His rejection for those suffering. In any situation like these we at best ignore those who are most in need. At worst, the tragedy is shamefully exploited for personal purposes or opinions. This is a cruel mockery and abuse of love, one of God’s greatest gifts. Love works best when placed directly on its target and in the proper order demanded by the process of grief and loss.
There is a time to refuse media sensationalism. There is a time to set aside “being right” and “expressing one’s voice” in order to make peace as far as it is up to you. There is a time to set aside oneself in order to give to another in order to rebuild the framework of community. Only those directly involved in tragedy know the time frame for weeping. That time frame demands and requires public respect. This time should occur without the public’s clamoring for a role in the story of the tragedy. Its length is decided only by those suffering and not by the general public’s whim and rubbernecking. There is time for silencing tales of notoriety, ignoring news reports designed to whip up frenzy, avoiding social network bickering, and minimizing current tragedy by comparing past tragedies, forsaking ourselves and our inclinations in order to simply do what is right: weep with those who weep.
Simply weep. No more. No less.