This weekend a video of some high school kids at the March for Life and a group of Native Americans went viral. As usual, the first narrative turned out not to be the whole story and then what followed was a debate on “what really happened” full of other narratives. I always bow out at that point because what I have come to learn is that there is no way to find the truth once a story like this one implodes. I have such a horrible habit of jumping on the outrage bandwagon and then I have to admit I do not know what happened and bail because I do not have energy for chaos. Chaos is the only thing that comes from these stories these days. You mix kids, MAGA hats, abortion, racism and the opinions of everyone on the internet and chaos is the only possibility.
In the middle of these debates on Facebook my son’s fiance sent me a picture of him a few weeks before his suicide. Just like that, in a matter of a breath, I no longer cared about whose narrative on the story of the boys and the native American man was right. I was quickly reminded of how fast life goes and how quickly things can change. How the death of a child can open your eyes to how little all of the faux outrage really matters in the grand scheme of life. It matters so very little.
Here’s the thing, the day that my son died the world stopped for me. Nothing mattered. Not what bills I owed, not the fact that my lights were about to be shut off, not whatever arguments was going on online. Nothing. And not just for me. The world stopped for a lot of people who flocked to work together to help me and my family and pray for us. People who I have since seen online arguing with each other or insulting each other. People of all political leanings and who disagree on pretty much everything. People who don’t even like me. People who I don’t even like. People who I cannot follow online or who can’t handle all my opinions. Yet, when push came to shove, in my greatest need, they all put all of that aside and helped me in my darkest moments.
That my friends, is Catholicism. We should not wait until someone’s son hangs himself to show up for people. If we would stop arguing and do what people did for me and my family everyday, without it having to be a tragic reason, we would get so much further in changing the world than we do by fighting on Twitter or Facebook. That is what Jesus calls us to do. He does not call us to win debates on the internet or to protest or to get caught up in the latest anger. Anger is not a sin, we ought to be angry at injustice but that does not mean wrapping ourselves in anger 24/7. I learned that lesson the hard way. Do not wait until something that awful happens in your life to learn it.