It’s Friday morning. I can’t do much of anything but contemplate current events right now.
The story has, in the last half hour or so, broken as the atrocity it is. There was word of it on the news before I left for the office, but nothing that would preempt Maury Povich because the extent of the murder wasn’t known; you see, somebody going into an elementary school and shooting maybe just one or two people isn’t really a big deal.
We have become anesthetized.
A guy going into a mall and killing a couple of people is all in a day in the life of America nowadays.
I guess this one got our attention.
The pro- and anti-gun rhetoric will fly. Today, I don’t want to hear it. I’m not feeling it.
I am feeling terror. How does any little child who gets wind of this human destruction ever feel okay going to school again? How do they leave the safety of their moms ever again? How do their moms let them go?
I am feeling visceral pain for a school full of children who deserved none of this and who will never, ever be the same again. Families who have been destroyed.
I am feeling impotent.
I am not feeling pride today. What has become of us? Why does this keep happening?
I’ve been thinking this for awhile; today, I put it in writing: I’m no cheerleader for this country, not right now. The United States of America is not the greatest country in the world.
It was when my parents were raising me, that’s for sure. There were two chickens in every pot. We knew the neighbors. And our neighbors weren’t getting gunned down at the movies or the mall.
For those of you so inclined, feel free to give me your “love it or leave it” rhetoric. But how about, instead, you and I try to make our country better, because it is very sick.
Look around. Where is the kindness?
I’ll give you a little example, something that again occurred just a few minutes ago: Every day, I cross N. Lewis Street at Hill, coming home from the Monroe Post Office. As I cross, oftentimes a random traveler who is coming my way from Main Street will not slow down. Perhaps I’ll hear the slowing as the car almost reaches me. Sometimes they just veer a bit so they don’t have to slow down.
I’ve thought about it, and the only thing I can come up with is that it’s a little game of reverse chicken. I figure the drivers are seeing if they must put on the brakes, or if I’ll cross quickly enough that they won’t have to. I doubt these fun-loving motorists would hurt me, unless, of course, I tripped.
It does put a little flutter in my gut when it happens, and it happens a couple or three times a month, I’d guess.
I’m sure the drivers know that they scare me. If they didn’t, it would be less of a game.
You can see the mean spirit so often within the anonymity of a vehicle. It’s easy to be rude with tinted windows and a thousand pounds of metal surrounding you.
But that’s just one example. From corporations that cut jobs and pay with nary a notice so the CEOs can get their big bonuses, trickling down to the person who hurries to get in line in front of you at Freddy’s, we are becoming a nation of careless, empathy-less, cold individuals, everyone for themselves, so quick to insult, so lacking in concern for the harm that we inflict on others.
I thank the Lord that I am not one of those mean people. That was a weak attempt at a joke on a day that I do not feel at all funny. Lump me in. I dwell in a glass house.
Every one of us can pick something unsavory out of the ugliest recesses of our brains of which we are not, or should not be, proud. After all, we are human, and thus imperfect.
Do we justify all of our actions without question, or do we ever attempt to step in the shoes of those we slight?
Or do we run with the sick satisfaction we got from the moment we burned someone, and move on to the next target?
I want to do better.
If I am anything, I will see that my words, my actions, can hurt.
Maybe what I did wasn’t so bad, just a little thing. But I’ll try to remember this: I am one of 315,000,000 people in the United States of America. If I be a kinder person, maybe somebody will feel that kindness and be kinder as a result. Perhaps more of the 300 million people will try just a little harder.
And, glass house or not, I will attempt to no longer witness the casual rudeness and belittlement of others which has become so common that it registers nothing more than a chuckle without some reaction on my part. If I do not have the guts to say that someone is being hurtful, then at least I can walk away from it, a silent one-on-one protest. But I hope I have more guts than that.
And, given the strength, I will turn the other cheek when it happens to me.
We have collectively forgotten the Golden Rule somewhere along the way; I’m just thinking we might want to try to get it back. Maybe a link in a chain will be broken, and someone won’t hurt. And the pain won’t accumulate. And someone won’t snap.
Ah, I feel so naïve saying all of this.
My heart goes out to the families, especially the children, in Newtown.
My heart is with my former colleagues at the schools. This will be hard on you for awhile, I think.
My heart goes out to us, all of us. We can do better, one person at a time.