Thoughts on Terror, Peace, and Love

Whether it is the action of a gunman shooting into a crowd of concert goers or a man driving a truck into pedestrians, it is terror. It is terrifying. It is deadly. It makes me want to cry.  And, I want it to stop.

Terror comes in all shapes and forms. There are homegrown terrorists and those from other countries. People of all backgrounds have killed or harmed many people. Whether it is for religious reasons, being fired from a job, a mental illness, or any other reason, it is terror and has consequences for all involved.

Terror in any form leads to bloodshed, lost life, and people who will never be the same again. As a result of violence, people are severely injured, others have to live with survivor’s guilt, and we mourn our loved ones who have been lost. We often have a hard time moving forward.

A gunman firing into people gathered for a concert is just as horrific as cars being driven into crowds of people, or shots being fired at baseball games, or buildings being blown up, or planes flying into buildings, or people in schools, nightclubs, movie theaters, or concert halls being the targets of violence, or home invasions where the robbers kill someone.

So what do we do about it? How can we change things? How can we come together as a country to take care of the most vulnerable of us and protect our way of life? I am not sure but do know that something must be done. I feel for my son and his generation and what they are inheriting in this world, and frankly, it scares and saddens me.

As a society, we have become so divisive, so mean to each other, so intolerant, so hateful, we often lie without thinking, and jump to conclusions without all of the facts. When we act like that and cannot find a way to even listen to each other, how can we expect our children to do any better? We have turned into a world of terrible examples for our children.

Also, many adults don’t seem to care about the importance and sanctity of life. We call ourselves a certain religion but then don’t practice love, peace, forgiveness, graciousness, kindness, or truthfulness. We seem so lost as a society and I am saddened and troubled.  And I want to sit down and weep.

What happened to practicing the golden rule of treating others how we want to be treated? What happened to spreading kindness and love, instead of meanness and hate? What happened to knowing you can disagree with someone without them being your enemy? What happened to our common decency, respect for others, and civility?

What happened to teaching our children the difference between real and imaginary? That playing a game is not the same as a real weapon? The fact is that guns in the wrong hands do kill and/or hurt people. That bullet will strike a person who could die, have life-altering injures, such as paralysis, blindness or broken bones.

Cars hitting people or planes flying into a building are just as deadly and deliberate in the intention to cause harm. I know a little something about being hit by a car and let me tell you it gives me chills each and every time I hear about it.

I was run over in a parking lot with a car that was out of control. It was an accident and the car was going very slowly and three of us were injured. We all lived but things could have been so much worse. I am thankful every day that they weren’t.

I don’t mean to sound so negative or pessimistic, but these are things I am troubled about. I want Ian to grow up in a world where he can trust adults and believe truths. I want him to go out and do things without being scared or fearful of something happening to him. I want him to feel safe at night and know that he will be okay.

As his parent, I will do all that I can to keep him safe, comfortable, loved and listened to. My husband and I work together to ensure a good life for Ian, with lots of love, rules, discipline as needed, and structure.  And, a lot of fun along the way.

I just hope that other adults both in our community and on the national level can help us do the same. It does take a village to raise a child and I want our village to be better, to be more loving and more caring. I want us to help one another and work for the betterment of each other, not just ourselves. I want us to remember that our children need us to be examples of how to act and how to treat others.

I Wonder: Is Life Still Precious?

With the things I keep seeing in the news and reading about online, I wonder and ask myself, do we think that life is still precious? Do we value one another as I was taught to do? Many people do but some sadly don’t. That truly makes me want to cry and ask a lot of questions to understand how little our lives seem to matter.

I recently heard a story that an NFL player received a death threat for kneeling during the National Anthem. That shocked and saddened me that someone thought so little of that man’s life. You may disagree strongly and think it is wrong, but to threaten to kill someone over it?!  That seems extreme to me.

Then the shooting in Las Vegas shocked me as I woke up on our son’s birthday. The numbers of dead and wounded were bad enough that morning. But today, I heard that 59 people were killed and 527 people were injured. Heartbreaking and hard to fathom.

I cried since Las Vegas was an important and valuable city in my family’s life. That place means a lot to me and I am devastated. It is a great city with terrific people and many great venues of entertainment. This tragedy occurred when people were out on a lovely evening enjoying a concert and should have been safe.

The weapon used in this shooting seems to be designed for nothing but killing. The shooter took a piece purchased separately and added it to the gun to have the ability to shoot more rounds of ammunition. Why? Seems he was hell-bent on as much destruction as possible.

Sadly he succeeded. I heard there were 200 rounds of bullets in 4 minutes. That is an average of 50 bullets per minute shot into a crowd of tightly packed people listening to artists who they love. What else was there to happen but multiple and senseless deaths and many with life-threatening injuries?

In my opinion, this man didn’t value the life of any of these victims. How could he when he plotted to harm so many? What happened to have him think this way? What happened to him to then take action and carry it out? And what can we do to ensure this never, ever happens again?

I don’t understand why these weapons are legal. I have family members and friends who own rifles, revolvers, shotguns, etc. and are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment. While I may not see eye to eye with them, I respect the right to bear arms. However, this weapon of mass destruction in my opinion is an entirely different beast and matter.

I want to know why anyone other than the military or police officers has access to them. It makes no sense to me at all. The two pieces of his weapon cannot be bought legally together but can separately. Why is that okay? I don’t get it.

The founders of our country and the writers of the Constitution had very different weapons and guns than we do today. Think about it, they had gunpowder and each round took quite a while to load. They also had cannons and other weapons that were equally as slow. Now we have 50 shots per minute. Chilling and in my opinion should give us all pause.

If we truly value life, let’s do more to protect it than just during growth in the womb.  Let’s help so that each child can then grow up and have a long and productive life. Let’s ensure safety for all people throughout their lives.  Let’s teach our young people to be careful and respectful of their bodies and each other. Let’s ensure we all can afford medical care for both children and adults with brain cancer, leukemia, the common cold and flu, and any other disease or ailment.

Let’s protect and assist the teenager who is being bullied. Let’s help the pregnant teenager by loving her and being there for her, rather than kicking her out of school or church.  Let’s assist those who lose everything in a fire, a hurricane, an earthquake, a mudslide, a flood, a natural disaster or an accident instead of causing them more harm. Let’s protect the elderly in nursing homes from items that can harm them.

Let’s show compassion, kindness, love, respect, consideration, and love.  Let’s encourage safe remedies when we are frustrated, when we feel at the end of the rope. Let’s reach out to our loved ones before and while they are in peril. Let’s help each other so our loved ones don’t feel as if they have no choice but to do something bad and harmful.

Let’s work to keep people away from opioid drugs. They are destructive and harmful and anyone can become addicted. Let’s encourage discussion with others and listen to those we don’t agree with. Let’s stop slamming and harming others and talking about them with so much hate and malice.

Let’s consider each other and take care of each other. Let’s love as Christ taught us to – fully and without condition or anything in return. Let’s remember that each and every life is precious, is valuable, is worthy of love and help when needed, and is worthy of respect.

Let’s be the people who our children can look up to and learn from. Let’s not be the warnings to them of how not to act. Let’s live in the best way for ourselves, our families, our friends, and strangers and those who we meet. After all, each of us has something we are struggling with, so let’s also remember to be kind and to always, always love.

Only Love Can Drive Out Hate

You’ve got to be taught To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
 
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
 

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You’ve got to be carefully taught!

This song is from “South Pacific” and I have been thinking about it a lot this weekend.  Aren’t the words amazing?  They often give me chills since they are so insightful of how many people feel.  Whether someone is taught to feel a certain way, grows up hearing how awful others are, learns on their own, or decides to hate, it is still wrong and needs to stop.

Those who don’t hate must stand up against it.  Instead of hate, we must show love and that all of us are special, all of us are worthy of love, and all of us matter.  After the shock of this homegrown terrorism and hate, I am trying to make some sense of it.  And, I can’t.  I don’t understand wanting to beat up or kill someone who thinks differently than I do.  Or looks different than I do.

Instead, I want to chat with different people and find out about them, their interests, their loves, their struggles, and what means something to them.  I want to show love and kindness instead of the hate and violence that we saw this weekend.  And so does Ian.  Above he is pictured with one of his dear friends.  We were being arty with the photo.

The people behind the Charlottesville, Virginia, violence are involved in groups that have been around for years and have spread hate and racism for far too long.  The KKK’s mission is to harm, beat, intimidate, scare, terrify, lynch, and kill African-Americans.  The Nazis wanted to annihilate all Jews and make them cease to exist. They tortured them, tore them from their families, made them starve, destroyed their homes, property and livelihood, and gassed them to death.

And yet people still want to be involved in these groups?  They want to belong, and carry out the mission to bring harm to others, just because?  What the?  I am sickened and saddened to think of all of the people who have been harmed and killed by such evil.  I am touched that so many fought and died to make changes and try to stop these acts.  I am saddened that people feel that these are still good groups to join.

I just don’t get it.  I truly cannot relate to this level of hatred toward one’s fellow man.  After all, we are all human, all created equal, and all equally loved by our creator.  So, how is this hate possible?  How can someone loathe others so deeply and so violently?  How can people cause such harm, suffering, and loss to others?

Thankfully, I was taught the value of everyone and had friends of different shades, different races, and different religions.  I learned from them and loved them.  And, I am thankful that Ian’s friends are all colors of the rainbow.  He likes them for their personalities and that he has fun with them not anything external about them.

The title of this blog is in reference to a quote by the amazing civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Dr. King knew that demonstrations could and should be done, but in a peaceful manner without harm to others.  He spoke many times of dreams and hopes for the future.  He spoke of love, caring, and compassion and knew that hate wouldn’t get us where we need to be.

The full quote by Dr. King is “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.  Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.  Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

My hope and prayer is that we can come together at this difficult time of our country and stand together.  That we can realize we have more in common than not.  That we are all colors of a lovely rainbow.  That we can learn from different faiths and different ways of life.  That we can love and not hate.  That we can have peace and not violence or war.

Ethics, Smethics

Playground.4Do ethics still matter or are they something to be set aside when we feel like it.  Are they ethics or ethics smethics?  I think they do matter.  I also think they are important to teach to children.  Yet, many adults no longer seem to feel they are important.  And, that is troubling.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ethics as:

  • a set of moral principles :  a theory or system of moral values
  • the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group
  • a guiding philosophy
  • a consciousness of moral importance

Wow, some big concepts about how to act, how to treat others, and how to live our lives.  Yet who and what determines our ethics?  I feel that our faiths, morals, and values are a large factor, as well as what we were taught growing up.  Our experiences and our own internal values also are a part.

Treating others as we want to be treated used to be a good gauge of our ethics and morals.  Yet today, we seem to hate, to distrust, and lie to each other without thought or question.  We have leaders who are doing the same.  We seem to not think twice about cutting someone’s feelings to the bone and causing them pain.

We seem to think we are better than each other.  And, some even think they are above the law, above reproach, and above questioning.  Yet, should anyone be exempt from treating someone kindly and fairly and with respect?  Should anyone be above reproach or questioning? I don’t think so.

Is it right and ethical of a political party to not investigate something just because it was allegedly done by the same party?  I think not.  Saying so is turning a blind eye to something that could be very wrong and harmful.

Is it right to hate someone who believes a different religion than we do, or looks different than we do, or has less money than we do, or loves in a way that we don’t understand?  I think not to this as well.

Hate crimes have been going on for years.  I don’t like them and often don’t understand them and I want them to stop.  Unless we can replace this hate and distrust with love and learning to trust, I don’t know how we can change.

Children love without question and without prejudice.  They are taught how to hate, how to distrust, and often how to lie.  They can and should instead be taught how to love, how to trust, and how to know and tell the truth.

A few things I want for us to do:

  • May we learn to be kind to each other
  • May we discern what is right and what is wrong
  • May we not listen to people trying to convince us that lies are the truth
  • May we stand up for what we believe without tearing each other down
  • May we ask questions and seek the truth
  • May we discern what we are being told to believe
  • May we live ethical lives
  • May we teach our children to love
  • May we always love

I wonder if we can be ethical and live with love and respect?  My earnest prayer is that we can.  I know that we can; I just hope that we will.