“Your Right To Live Isn’t As Important As….”

Not all cops.

Not all white people.

Not all Muslims.

Not all Southerners.

Not all Texans.

Not all Republicans.

Not all Liberals.

Not all men.

We’re really not that different. We see these horrible things that are happening in our country and immediately want to distance ourselves. If they look like us, if they live like us, if they like the same things we like, if they work with us, if they live in our towns, on our streets, in our homes and do something horrible our immediate reaction is “But I’m not like that” and “The good people who I know and love aren’t either!”

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Of course you aren’t. **pats your head and smiles at you reassuringly**

When did we get so incredibly defensive? Or, more to the point, why? The simplest way to put it is that we’re scared. We’re scared to be lumped in with the evil-doers. We’re scared of being falsely accused. Most of all, we’re scared that we can’t see who is dangerous. Who can we trust? Children, and, let’s face it some adults, are afraid of the dark because they can’t see what might be a danger to them. Is there a monster under the bed waiting to grab your ankles? Is there a minefield of Legos threatening your feet? Is there something hidden in the lack of light that will somehow cause harm? If the person in that uniform is supposed to be a good guy and isn’t, how do we know?

I don’t have any grand answers. I can’t offer a perfectly “acceptable to all” compromise. But I can suggest something that has seemed to work for me. When you read or see a news segment, sit down to think about what happened without commentary. Temporarily disregard profession, race and religion; it gets tedious to follow, but it’s effective.   Example:

Person A is a 7 year old child. Person B is an adult. Person A did some that Person B considered rude and Person B told Person A as much. Person A became upset and cried. Person A told Person C that Person B yelled at them. Person C is Person A’s parent. Person C confronted Person B. The confrontation was verbally aggressive. Person B apologized and didn’t think they scolded Person A. Person B was obviously annoyed at the whole situation and started to walk away. Person C continued to be verbally aggressive and wouldn’t let Person B leave. They exchanged heated words and insults. Person B tried to leave again and Person C wrestled them to the ground.

If someone yells at your kid, you get to be annoyed. If the person apologizes and whether they seem to be sorry or not, you still get to be annoyed. Most of us would mutter more insults and curses and usher our child away from the whole thing. The goal is to get your child away from the perceived danger; if you want to express your anger, fine. You don’t get to physically attack them. Your profession or skin color or religious beliefs do not matter. If you don’t agree with that conclusion, I don’t want to be in an argument with you and respectfully suggest anger management exercises.

Until very recently I was very much a “BUT NOT ALL______” defender. Not all cops, not all white people, and all lives matter. I thought I was feeling the right thing. My intentions were certainly peaceful. I truly said these things with good intentions and no malice. I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this because you know me (thank you), then I know you and, if you still say these phrases, there’s no doubt in my mind your statements are more pleading than combative.   If more than my usual 3 people read this, think about how you are saying these words. Think about why. Are you hoping for peace? Are you reaffirming that you aren’t “one of them”? Are you defensive because your brother, lover, sister, cousin, best friend is an officer? Are you a responsible gun owner and don’t want to relinquish your collection? What threat to you specifically causes NOT ALL_______ to pass your lips?

Once you figure out your motivation, how does it contribute to either the problem or the solution?

If you’re “tired of all this”, why? Are you tired of the violence and death or of defending yourself when you’re not the one accused?

I’m at the point where I want to delete this. This is why I haven’t posted anything in the past year and a half. I type out these thoughts and decide that my opinion doesn’t really matter. If you haven’t agreed with me so far then you aren’t going to wonder how secular laws involving people you don’t know will disrupt your religious beliefs and practices. You won’t think about how maybe our “right to bear and keep arms” shouldn’t include the right a weapon that enables a person to inflict lethal damage to 26 children in less than 5 minutes. You won’t consider that maybe there are officers who were attracted to their profession because they like the power and authority. You won’t think we have a race problem. You will continue to worry just about yourself.

I’m angry. I’m tired of hearing defenses that basically say a person’s right to live isn’t as important as what another gets to do.

You have every right to your opinion. You have every right to voice your opinion. All I really want is for us to really think about what’s happening in this country and stop trying to keep it at a distance. Insisting you aren’t the problem doesn’t do anything but satisfy your own ego.

And if you still want to say “not all_____” don’t forget to add “but one is too many.”

A Time to Transform

25.6 miles away from my home…. 14.3 miles from the place i called home for 13 years… is Newtown, CT.  I don’t have young children (my youngest stepchild is 18) but I have plenty of friends with children under eight years old, with six of them either living in or close to Newtown.

I feel as I did days after 9/11, where nothing I do feels important or necessary.  Why am I cooking for a birthday celebration when there are 26 people who will never blow out candles again and their families will mark that day with tears and memories?  Why am I writing a new Yule ritual to celebrate the return of Sun and Life to the world when 20 children had their life ended by madness?

My heart aches and my brain screams… but there’s nothing out there that will listen or help.

I’ve read many posts about reactions to the tragedy in Newtown. There are two that stand out:  Kimberly Brock’s I WONDER AS I WANDER and a comment by Kenneth on Jason Pitzl-Waters’ Prayers in the Face of Unspeakable Tragedy post.

Ms. Brock is an author and mother whose post doesn’t mention a word about gun control, mental health or even the town’s name.  It’s about faith, courage and standing together. I know I’m simplifying her sentiments, but I believe each reader will come away with something different. I read it and felt that as alone and uncertain as I feel, there are others willing to share.  It helps to hold your neighbor’s in our global community, even virtually.

The comment by a gentleman named Kenneth in the latter post is a snap back to reality.  I’m a firm believer in “you sleep in the bed you make”.  You can complain and lament all you want, but, when push comes to shove, you’re the only one who can make a difference in your own situation. He says:

“…we tell ourselves that mass shootings are just random acts of faceless evil or some nebulous force of nature. It’s a natural cause of death for children, the way diphtheria was 200 years ago. We consider it normal for kindergartners to be drilled in how to respond in a firefight. Praying to the gods for relief in this instance [is] an insult to them. It is like praying for relief from hunger after refusing to plant crops. The gods are happy to help when we do our best and need a little nudge to get over the top. They’re not there to bail us out of our own collective willful stupidity.”

One of the reasons why I loved Ms. Brock’s post so much is because it wasn’t political in any sense, and I’m struggling to keep with that here.  Kenneth’s comment isn’t really political, but most is certainly a blow to our culture. I believe he’s right.  Whoever your Divinity is, I’m willing to bet He/She/They hear our prayers and say “A miracle isn’t going to fix this problem. The miracle will be your own cultural changes. Get working on that and we’ll help you with the strength to transform.”

Combining the ideas from both writers, we need to come together as a community, support each other but do more than expressing our wishes and intentions. We have to do something.  The first thing to do is define what “something” is. We also need to remember in defining “something”, we’re not just expressing our desired result.  Let’s all step it up a bit.  We need to put aside our political and religious convictions and look at this logically. We need to be mindful of everyone’s rights and be willing to compromise.

Compromise is difficult but such a small price to pay to avoid funerals, isn’t it?

I know this blog isn’t updated often or with anything very profound. I know I do not have a strong readership. However, if any one chooses to leave a comment, I will ask you to be respectful toward each other.  You needn’t agree, but I will not tolerate attacks.

Blessed be, one and all.