I am disgusted.
I wish I could say that I am saddened by the shootings that have become more and more common in this country because I am, but right now I am more disgusted than anything else. We need to get over ourselves. We are so obsessed with being mean that we don't even realize that collectively, we are the reason for the violence.
The world has evolved so much and in so many ways.
Phones are no longer just phones anymore, space is slowly becoming more of a destination and less a mystery, and we can print organs almost as easily as we print our tax returns. But when it comes to how we treat each other--one of the most basic functions that we perform every day--it seems that there is a percentage of people that cannot seem to evolve at all. And with all that we've been through, to become a country where freedom of speech is an inalienable right and should be cherished and treated as the privilege it is, we cut others down for expressing their opinion in growing numbers. Just look at memes, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and some blogs.
What does this have to do with shootings, #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #Dallas, and all of the innocents that have suffered in the mix?
Respect is not the same as agreeing to and going along with something you know to be wrong. It is allowing someone else their opinion before disagreeing without shaming or attacking his character. If you think you have the right to say what you think, remember that the other person believes the same. And if you think you stand a chance at changing this person's mind by yelling or coming at them hard, just remember how many times you tuned an angry parent out...
The other day someone posted this question on FaceBook: Is it ok for someone to buy lobster with food stamps?
I thought that maybe this person was using food stamps and wanted to know if lobsters was a product on the "authorized" list, but for half a day, this feed was like the trial of the century. And within two responses, I was sure that if the person on food stamps was really on trial, he was going to get the death penalty. Someone even created a list of what this person should be buying--without any knowledge of this person's family, background, special needs, etc.
Sure, lobster might be an unusual choice, but how does that choice warrant so much ridicule for such a large chunk of the day? Especially when you consider how many strives have been made on unusual choices. Without that strange looking thing that we screw into lamps, I'd be writing this post by candlelight, on paper with the more common inkwell, then nailing it to a pole for people to read.
We need to take a stand.
We do. But I think we also need to realize that there are many ways to take a stand. Throughout history, we have been shown different ways, we have been led via many paths, and we have made progress in so many areas. We are testing ourselves again--a sign that we are onto something great--but this time it's tougher because we have more resources with which to come at each other.
In my heart, I know this:
- If we take those resources and redirect them, we can be just as strong in a positive way as we are in the negative ways we ultimately wind up mourning over.
- Saying something to speak out against violence and hatred is fine in some instances, but in others, it fuels it.
Although your intentions may be good, arguing back and forth can escalate and perpetuate the nonsense. There are whens and wheres to debate the issues, but when we come at each other on social media, we appear disjointed as a nation. Deep down, that kind of disjointedness creates fear and anger, and we wind up shooting people we don't even know--and the whole time we don't even realize that the fear and anger came from such trivial FaceBook posts like the one about food stamps and lobster.
I have been ridiculed for not saying something.
But in my silence, I turn away from the negative and toward the positive. Imagine a toddler having a temper tantrum in a play group. The other toddlers turn their backs instead of telling him to shut up or instead of trying to calm him down.
That kid gets to express himself, and eventually, two things happen. It becomes obvious that the calmer toddlers outnumber the one loud, angry kid, and soon the yeller--without back up or support--grows tired and either falls asleep, or moves on to play nicely with others--because that's the only way they will interact with him.
Social media has the power to bring us together, but it can also rip us apart. Skimmers only read the headlines and those are skewed to attract readers. Opinions are often formed and expressed based on half read articles and the need to be right.
Why can't we all just be heard?
Progress is made via debate, not violence--if you kill everyone off, who will create the next best cronut? And yes, humor is great tool for when we get too serious or tense. Why are we here if we can't have fun? I am quite sure that our purpose is NOT to create bigger weapons so that we can kill more people--I have to believe that we were meant to do better than this.
We should expect respect. On all levels of government and civillian life. We should hold ourselves accountable for the good behavior we expect from others. When we work this way, the smaller, bad group is easily exposed. They can't hide behind the chaos we create, working against the greater good, while we are busy policing each other for being outraged at the smaller, bad group's actions. THAT is how change comes about--once we isolate the real issue we can truly determine its size and worth. We can more easily figure out how and where to focus our energies--and no one has to get hurt.
The consequences of where we are headed are eloquently laid out for us by John Kass, Contact Reporter for the ChicagoTribune: "If you read histories about great empires and how they lost their way — slowly, inexorably, the illness growing along the dull spine of what they once had been — then you already know what happens."
My disgust has melted away and I am replaced with hope. Hope that someone may agree with what I've said and change one thing about how they respect others more. And that by their example one more person may do the same. And so on, until respect spreads like the viral videos of senseless killings of fellow human beings that have no business in a place like the United States.
CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.
You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.
Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.
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