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Why the Nairobi Tragedy Hit Close to Home

09/24/2013 12:34 EDT | Updated 11/24/2013 05:12 EST

I've been struggling to find the right words to write this article.

And the question I pose to you is the same one that's been swirling around in my head since Sunday morning: "How are you "being love" in the world?"

Let me explain.

When Breaking News Becomes Real Life

Early in January 1989 as I started my first week of college, I met a young woman also in her late teens just as I was. This woman and I became friends and this friendship and deep bond of sisterhood has spanned a lifetime and all the experiences and events it has held for each of us since we first met. This woman is one of my extraordinary and amazing soul-sisters.

Five years ago, my friend and her husband decided to leave Toronto and relocate to Nairobi, with their kids, to be closer to his family. The shopping mall, Westgate, where this weekend's incomprehensible act of terrorism took place is 3 miles away from their home.

Nairobi's Westgate Mall is their neighbourhood hangout. It's where she meets friends for coffee or runs errands at least 3 times a week, as she told me on the phone. It's where they take their kids for burgers and favourite treats. It's where my friend would have been on Saturday had her kids not had ballet and soccer.

They have lost friends and acquaintances. Her father-in-law who was at the mall enjoying a relaxed Saturday morning coffee narrowly escaped. The two people sitting near him were gunned down. The impact on my friend and her family is profound and far-reaching, but in this moment, I am beyond grateful that they are alive and physically unharmed.

Love is the Answer

This past week alone, the news broadcasts have been full of reports of horrific acts of senseless, large-scale violence and attacks on innocent people in different parts of the world. And like most people, I sort-of pay attention but admittedly block it out for the most part, because it's far too disturbing to take in on a constant basis beyond a cursory level. I feel sad for a moment, and then I let it go because I simply have to. Taking it in beyond that is just too much for most people's psyche, including mine. You know exactly what I mean, right?

However, the incident in Nairobi was different. It was suddenly close to home. And too close to the bone. It jarred and shook me to the core because the impact was so deeply personal. Suddenly this wasn't just another breaking news report of yet another horrific and tragic act of terrorism in a far off place on the other side of the world.

As I've been processing all of this, feeling helpless that I can't physically be there to support my dear friend right now, I've been thinking about what it takes to counter what feels like an ever-increasing level of fear, hate and violence in this world we live in. And there's only one answer. Love.

It might not feel like it sometimes, but love is indeed the most powerful force in the universe. And what I'm referring to here is "being love".

Being Love

Being love is love in action. It's love as a verb.

It's the little things we do, the things what we think, how we act in our everyday lives, in our everyday interactions, with the people we engage with on any given day -- family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, strangers, the homeless guy at the corner, the barrista who makes your latte every morning.

And in a world gone mad, it's the most simple yet most potent antidote we have. So, my question and challenge to you is the same one I am posing to myself: "How can I be love in my everyday life?" What small acts of kindness and generosity of spirit can I carry out in ways that spreads a little peace and love in my everyday life and situations?

Imagine a whole bunch of us doing these little bitty things and the super-charged power and energy of love that they would collectively generate? Wow!

Here are 3 easy things that you and I can each do this week to live love as a verb.

1. Instigate Random Acts of Kindness

Do something thoughtful (and anonymously) to help out someone who wouldn't be expecting it: a co-worker, a neighbour or even stranger.

2. Don't Take Things Personally

If someone snaps at you, seemingly for no reason, chances are that it's absolutely not about you. Really! You don't know what's going on with them, or in their life, or what they are going through. Being love - benefits them and yourself - means not reacting or responding in a way that fosters negativity. Just let it go.

3. Initiate Acts of Love

Don't just tell someone you care about that you love them. Show them. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

I encourage you to create your own list, and to share it with others, inspiring them to "be love" in their own world.

Let's come together and do our small part on this planet every single day to fuel the most powerful force in the world -- LOVE

Let's show all the ugliness, hate and fear out there who's really boss!

Attack At Mall In Nairobi