“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”
These are the opening lines of the radio program that captivated listeners transformed by stories of macabre. As we mourn the loss of innocent life, we are reminded that it is the person that did this—not a gun.
Yes, we need common-sense gun laws, but what law would have prevented this? Why is this crime so mysterious? What could possibly be the motive? What kind of relationship did this man have that his live-in woman-friend did not have any clues as to what was in his house, but, more importantly, what was in his heart?
Isn’t the heart amazing? It has been said that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Many of us have heard sayings like, “Guard your heart,” “Let not your heart be troubled,” “Love with all your heart.” It is the heart that is the culprit. With calls for funding for mental health, how about issues-of-the-heart health? We must do everything we can to nurture the heart and help people feel connected with a sense of belonging.
As a nurse, I would ask patients, “One to 10, where is your pain?” It gave me a concrete sense of what I needed to do next for my patient. Now as a relationship educator, I ask, “One to 10, how full is your heart?” I know what to do if the person’s heart is under a five. They need to be nurtured, cared for, affirmed, loved, listened to and honored. This is called empathy.
A University of Michigan study of nearly 14,000 college students found that they have about 40 percent less empathy than college students had in the 1980s and 1990s. Michele Borbam, an educational psychologist and author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, argues that the rise of narcissism and loss of empathy are key reasons for why nearly a third of college students are depressed and mental health issues are on the rise. Doing things for others, hearing their words and going deeper to hearing their heart is what we need to do to heal the mental health issue.
Obviously, this man who did this heinous act was mentally deranged. His heart was empty and hard. He was devoid of empathy.
The questions about this tragedy might never be answered, but we know what we must do. We must address the issues of severely dysfunctional families, child maltreatment, lack of caring or feeling another person’s pain. We must never become numb to meeting the needs of the heart in our families, our schools, our neighborhoods and in the workplace.
Instead of asking one another, “How are you?,” maybe we should ask, “One to 10, how full is your heart?,” and be ready to lean in to love well. Only then can we heal the heart of this nation.
Joneen Mackenzie RN, is the president of the Center for Relationship Education. For more information; email email@example.com or visit myrelationshipcenter.org
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