Mass killings in Aurora, Colorado. Over 200 homicides in Philadelphia just since the beginning of this year! Assaults and rapes that plague our communities. The murder of Trayvon Martin in the name of self-defense. America often chooses violence as the solution. And internationally, war/violence is often our primary response.
Is this part of the human condition? When pushed hard enough or when seeking power over people, are we always inclined to topple into violence? Or do we have another choice! Do we have the will to find another path?
This conversation provokes so many contradictions. Our faiths promote peace, love, justice and “turning the other cheek.” But religion is often the catalyst for wars.
In our country, we allow anyone and everyone to have as many guns as they want from handguns to assault weapons. Even if people have a history of mental health issues (the accused in the Aurora massacre was under the care of a psychiatrist) it is so easy to acquire weapons. In fact, just go on the internet and place your order! All in the name of the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment! Or the power of the National Rifle Association. Is this what our Founding Fathers meant by “the right to bare arms.”
Many attribute the Aurora massacre to just another crazy person that more gun laws would not stop. Okay, if that is true what about money for mental health. Could that make a difference? We will never know since we cut budgets for mental health. I have been involved in early childhood education in many different ways over the years. I have not experienced an inclination toward violence in our children. But, as they get older, they embrace our role model. They may see violence in the community, the media, and their family. It often becomes the primary tool to solve problems. But, there is an alternative vision for us to adopt. Occasionally and actually on a regular basis, people demonstrate extraordinary acts of kindness. Even in Aurora, as the violence escalated, some people gave their lives to protect loved ones. There are even more ordinary ways to show love and respect and build community. They include helping a stranger or even just saying hello! It is important to seek something other than power over people. We must rededicate ourselves to hearing a different voice, one of reason and hope and living out our faiths. We must seek power with people. In the larger political arena, it is the vision of informed consent. The purpose of building community through exploring and developing shared self-interests. Of course, the first revolution is always internal. Men this starts with us and our relationships with women. If we are to address the larger issues of violence in our society (mostly under the leadership of men), we can only begin by treating women with respect and caring. Listening to their needs and wants is a good first step. Then and only then can we begin to choose kindness as the alternative to violence.