What if during the year to come, each day, each of us tried to better understand the place of our beliefs, religious and otherwise in creating violence? Could we then change our hearts’ hardness to others? Could we stop shunning and hating, if not in the world, in parts of our world?
Each (hu)man has inside him/her a basic decency and goodness. If s/he listens to it and acts on it, s/he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a (hu)man to listen to his/her own goodness and act on it.
I would say to young people a number of things….I would say let them remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can, everyone, do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all the frustrations and all disappointments.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Emotional fitness thoughts about violence
The violence of angry young men threatens us all, whether they act alone with bombs or guns against school children, movie goers, mall shoppers of they are criminals not caring about the rights of others or they act in a group seeking to gain or keep power.
But not all angry young men, angry young women, old men, or old woman turn to violence. Indeed, it has been my experience that most humans want to live in peace and most practice kindness at least within their own groups.
But kindness will not end all violence, for there are those who kill when caught in the grip of hatred, jealousy, or fear. Moreover, some kill for and evil and pervert pleasure in harming others. Banning guns will not keep all safe , nor will arming teachers. We need to defend the good against evil acts. So armies, police forces, security guards and carefully armed citizens are probably necessary facts of modern life.
But what if we understood the other’s pain or beliefs that lead them to evil acts?
Notice I say evil acts, for at most we are all born innocent babies, blank slates as some say or as others claim with a calling to be good but also a push to get our own way and the instinct to hurt back when we are hurt.
I like this story: “A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this way: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.”
We are feeding the violent dogs in many ways these days. But, as I asked above, what if we offered more understanding, more kindness, more generosity, gave away what we didn’t need, honored all humans as worthy. What if no one was shunned or pulled away from? What if no one felt shamed by another human being?
Most isolated mass killings are done by youth who feel shunned and isolated, rejected by main stream society.
I recently read a full account of the Columbine Murders. You can read it here. Columbine by Vanessa West on Tripod She is a journalist. The account is chilling.
What stood out for me, however, was that some who came face to face with the killers were spared. The reason given, “I like you.” To me that meant those particular people had taken the time to get to know the killers and did not shun or condemn them.
I rant against religions that damn others. Across the centuries some have taken that belief as permission to kill the damn. Many leaders have made such beliefs the tool of their wars.
Some individuals, including the Columbine Killers accept the label damned and so have nothing to help them tame their anger or violence. The Columbine duo seemed to target those most devoted to being Christian, and who I suspected unwittingly shunned the two killers. I am not blaming the victims, please understand that, but shunning and drawing circles putting some on the outside creates hurt and shame and shame sometimes leads to a desire to destroy.
Which is why I asked “What if?” For it remains my hope that the kinder “we the people” become, the greater the possibility violence will diminish.
It is a feeble hope at times, but to my mind the best hope for our world. So smile at the stranger, be kinder to the outsider, neither shun or shame another.
I would be very interested in hearing what my ideas mean to you.
Life is a struggle, full of hurt. Some hurt from acts of evil, some from the randomness of nature. Relationships also bring pain, but without caring connections life is bleak. Kindness is the true path to caring relationships. Acting with kindness diminishes violence in our hearts and hopefully in the hearts of all we meet.
Here is my thank you gift for those joining me for the first time. Click here to be taken to an introduction to the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Practicing kindness is one.
THE USUAL PROMOTIONAL STUFF
Liking, commenting, sharing are acts of social media kindness and very easy to practice. So be kind to me and all your media friends. I promise you will be repaid.
Get my newest book which is in print, by clicking How To Hold Successful Family Meetings.
Disclaimer one: Emotional Fitness Training is not therapy.
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors
If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later. Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.