It Has to Start Somewhere…

I’ve struggled this morning with whether or not to respond to the deaths of the 5 officers last night or the death of the suspect that lead to the protest that ended in 5 officers’ deaths. Here are my thoughts; if you scroll past, no problem.

I’m tired of this. My heart breaks for communities that have become so divided, for families who live in areas rampant with violence because economics don’t permit them to choose security, for families who have watched their once “whole village” streets filled with kids playing under the street lights under the watchful eye of their elders, disintegrate into places where their children can’t play without being taught to be afraid of slow moving cars that may signal a drive-by or “hunt”.
My heart breaks further when friends become enemies over reports of actions, to which neither of them were personally involved or witnessed: reports that, if you’re a discriminating reader, will eventually show themselves as often hasty and inaccurate. But the damage will have already been done and the seeds of hate planted and watered.
I am disgusted at what the media is doing, and the role social media plays in this dumbing down of our people and culture. I am reminded of that one kid in school who would take a small fact and sensationalize it in order to gain attention for themselves. It’s all about the ratings, right?
I’m angered by those suggestions that this is a problem, fixable by creating more restrictive legislation…monitor this, take away that, and suddenly the problems will disappear. I could throw legitimate statistics from actual research at you now, but it’s not the intent of this rant to persuade you as to the right or wrong of use of one object over another.
My base thoughts are this: we are losing our touch with our most basic of character traits. We are becoming lazy: we want things now before having to work for them as our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents did. There is value in learning patience, how to overcome obstacles, and how to work together to achieve a goal for someone other than ourselves. We want our information now, even if it’s unchecked or untrue: just give it to me now! We’ve grown to expect and demand a handout…rather than ask for a “hand up” when we need a boost. Or even worse, we often fail to learn to live without something until we can afford it, confusing our “wants” with “needs”. Our priorities are skewed: the latest phone, bigger tattoos, flashy cars, expensive clothes have replaced feeding our families nourishing, healthy food and needed medical care. We have become desensitized to violence in our movies, tv shows, music, games, and everyday words. We tolerate degrading portrayals of women as sexual objects and justify it by calling it “artistic expression” or “sexual freedom”. We put pressure on men to be “macho” or primary providers for the family when the economy makes that a challenge or an impossibility for many. We are quick to lump all into a category based on the poor decisions or actions of a small percentage of the many.
And compassion, forgiveness, and understanding….when did we dump these in favor of furthering our own agenda? WHY do we look in disgust at the homeless man or woman, head down, dirty, maybe drunk, and decide it was our privilege to judge them? WHY do we avoid eye contact with strangers who dress differently, look differently from ourselves? WHY do we interpret the actions of others, no matter how truly insignificant, as a personal assault?
Before I finish this, let me preface the final paragraph with a definition. To me, “love” is this: thinking of others, forgiveness whether it is deserved or not (not my call to make according to my beliefs), tolerance, compassion, and even being firm and having to tell someone “no” for their own good. I also, personally believe, that my faith holds me to these principles; although as a fallible human, I don’t always live up to those teachings. I know that though my Father’s grace, I am forgiven though, and try harder.
I believe the solution is this: we stand up, as a nation, and speak up. Love our neighbor as (or better than) we love ourselves. That means the drunk, the little kid throwing rocks at your car, the lonely woman on her front porch watching through cloudy eyes as the last years of her life slip away unnoticed…the construction worker, blocking the road for the 4th week in a row, just trying to do a job to feed his family…and yes, the kid who broke into your car to steal your change. Yes, the kid who had no guidance from a strong support system growing up, who just shot another person for their phone. Yes, the officer who drew his weapon before thinking. Yes, please love the lady in front of you at the grocery store, yelling at her kids that they can’t have candy while her cart is filled with steaks and beer. Yes, please love that college kid, barfing his guts behind your house at 4 in the morning. If we take back our nation by modeling and teaching “love” for ALL our fellow man, I believe we CAN start a peaceful “revolution”. That means we start in the home, on the streets, and in our schools and workplace.
But we have to start. Are you with me? I can’t do this alone. You can’t do this alone. But WE can do this together…all we have to do, is start.