Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aftermath of the Arizona shootings: A Lesson in the Golden Rule

I don't get in to politics often at Dad-On-The-Run, but I feel OK with this post as it isn't meant to be partisan. It's much more to with the civility of the world we are raising children in and how we must change for them.

Americans, let’s stop pointing the finger over the recent act of violence. Tempers have flared, emotion blinded many of us, I know I’m guilty of it certainly, but now we should step through the emotion and work on ways to change. We all see the Arizona shooting as a tragedy and are saddened by the needless loss of life. The left and right are scrambling to label the shooter as a member of the other group. Honestly, it doesn't matter what this lunatic's party affiliations are. At the end of the day people are still dead. Regular Americans like you and I will not wake to see another day, a judge and a congresswoman were gunned down, and one little girl won’t reach her 10th birthday. We can all agree the shooter is unstable and he could have been set off by anything or maybe by nothing at all. Finding a picture of him with an ACORN t-shirt or a "Don't tread on me" flag won't prove anything and it won't improve the outcome of the recent events.
With that said, we should recognize some civility should be returned to our politics and to our dealings with each other in all things. What we can do is say enough is enough, we are not powerless. Politics is just that... politics. Our nation has a very effective system of electing the people's choices to office and of limiting power amongst all branches of government. In other words, liberal, conservative and everyone in between can rest easy knowing neither group can destroy your idea of America if you believe that America is for the people and by the people. At the same time, it is inevitable our America is changing as it always has and as it always will. Change doesn't qualify as destruction, we don't say a seed was destroyed to make a tree or that a caterpillar was killed to make a butterfly; it is just part of living on this wonderful planet among the wide variety of people. I know change can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Some feel change is happening too fast while others had hoped change would happen more speedily; the very existence of these opposing views illustrates the rate of changes is probably near where it should be.  This nation is not a group of left or a right voters, it is one country with many opinions and we are all part of it. We can’t be rid of each other any more than a right hand can be rid of the left hand; to lose one is to damage the whole. We can argue and we can debate policies, philosophies and other ideas and we can do so passionately but we should be able to have those conversations without vilifying each other.

What we all can do is stop tolerating the antagonistic war/battle rhetoric. Both sides have used this tactic before and I'm not going to get bogged down in who does it most, who did it first or who is doing it currently. What is important is that we stop and we cannot stop if we are labeling each other as the cause of innocent deaths in this situation. We have to move past that. If you see a news article promoting political opposition as war or battle, stop watching. If it's a blog, unsubscribe. Same for magazines and newspapers. If its a friend, be brave and let them know how you feel about their vitriol. When it is one of your elected representatives (at any level) voice your disappointment and vote them out! Tell them all we don't want to hear it in those terms anymore. There are plenty of sport metaphors to use if you must plant the antagonism in the article... better yet leave that out too. We are not on opposing teams, the metaphors are completely off-base. As Americans we support coaches (leaders) with differing philosophies on the game, but we are all in the same game and on the same team. We all want peace and prosperity (a.k.a. victory) for our team.

Of course words have meaning and they can cause damage which is why I'm calling for a shift in how we use them, but we also need to recognize words don't pull triggers. A man did that. He has a mind, fractured as it may be, and he made a decision. What we have to do is make sure guys like this are not smiling in their mug shots, if he thinks he will be a hero among those who share some of his political views (whomever they turn out to be), he needs to think again and if we think we didn't give him the impression he could/would be then we need spend some time examining ourselves. Now, I'm not saying to outlaw words or tamper with our freedom of speech. There is no need for it to be illegal, I'd settle for this type of speech being frowned upon by the general public. It is the public who have, through our attention, support and readership, created this environment where we treat those with opposing opinions as enemies in our words. Let's change that environment and let's treat those we love, our families, and our neighbors with respect.

There are people I love who are conservative and others who are liberal, some who are libertarian and some who are socialists, there are people I love who are gay and others who are heterosexual. I love people of many beautiful hues and with many wonderfully unique accents. I call some people friends who hold doctorates and others who worked hard for their G.E.D’s.  I love some people with loads of money and some without a penny. Among my friends are Protestants, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and others I’m sure I’ve left out. These friends of mine, who I’m so grateful for, have a lot more in common than they have to differentiate them… after all, we are all Americans and more importantly; we are all human beings.  It’s all about the Golden Rule… a multitude of religions and common sense lead us to follow it, why don’t we?

Christianity: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:36)

Native American: “’The Universe is the Mirror of the People,’ the old Teachers tell us, ‘and each person is a Mirror to every other person.’” (Hyemeyohsts Storm).

Judaism: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18)

Brahminism: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done unto you.” (Mahabharata 5, 1517).

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga 5, 18).

Mormonism: "Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets." (3 Nephi 14:12)

Hinduism: "One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires." (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8)

Confucianism: “Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.” (Analects 15, 23).

Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” (T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien).

Islam: "That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind."(Mohammed from Hadith).

Socrates: "One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him."

Atheism: "Treat others as one would wish to be treated by them. This sober and rational precept, which one can teach to any child with its innate sense of fairness is well within the compass of any atheist." ~ Christopher Hitchens

In closing, I'm asking for your forgiveness in the words and thoughts I have said and felt following the shootings in Tucson. I'm also offering my understanding to you for the same. For those of you who did not say these things and did not have thoughts along the lines of the majority of the country, congratulations... you are a great example to the rest of us. I promise to voice my opposition to those who can't follow the golden rule in the future and I hope you will remind me of the same if you see me falling short in my commitment. It's a new day, have a good one!

4 comments:

  1. I thought this was a well thought out and brilliantly said post. I found the link in a response to Jon Stewart's speech on the subject.

    Thank you, Dad on the Run. Well said.

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  2. This was a beautiful post. Thank you. I, too, am so tired of every negative event being turned into something "politically motivated", which is so lame.

    This person, and I say "person" even reluctantly since his actions were more animal-like than human, who committed this awful deed is very sick, which is no excuse. There were plenty of warning signs, via his classmates who feared him, and outrageous acts his parents witnessed.

    Does that excuse him? No, it certainly does not. This person CHOSE his actions. Are his parents to blame? No, except they should have sent him away for help a long time ago. Can he be helped? I truly question whether he can be.

    There are truly sick, devious, evil people in this world. The kind we warn our children about. There always have been, perhaps not so many as of late, and we ALL must be alert, and even report such behavior to those who can legally stop that person from violence against the innocent.

    We all know that where there is smoke (obvious signs) there is fire (probability of deviant, dangerous behavior). To ignore those signs and do nothing is also shameful.

    Bottom line, this act was not politically motivated in any way, shape or form. To blame others' words, actions, music, or even videos or games for deviant behavior is truly misguided.

    Personally I wish, as cruel as this will sound to some, he had turned his gun on himself. Why? If he had killed himself after doing so much to the innocent, the story would have died quickly. Now we are left with media speculations, theories, condemnation regarding mental health facilities, politically blame calling, and on and on. Not to mention the huge dollars this scumbag is going to consume from Arizona taxpayers.

    Don't know if Arizona has the death penalty, but if ever there was a good case for it, this is it.

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