I should preface this with three things: First, my parents and eldest sister are immigrants to the US. Second, I was born in the US. Third, neither of the previous statements are a predictor of our inclination (or not) to pick up a weapon and shoot other people. Well, I am a parent of three boys, so perhaps I AM a little more likely to pick up a watergun, but that’s really just a treat saved for my children.
Recent heartbreaking events once again bring to light the unbelievable violence we see more and more often that one human can bring unto others. And, almost as jarring, the heartbreaking response we hear from political leaders. This is not about you, folks. This is not about pointing fingers, or racial comments, or who should or should not be in the White House. This is not about nationality nor is it about religion. This is about something so much bigger than that. This is about those people who have lost their lives due to the madness of one person. This is about loves lost, and about bringing hatred and hurt into a place it did not belong. This is about non-acceptance and judgment. This is about this happening over and over again. And this is about the rising tendency for individuals to act on non-accepting beliefs and views by trying to eradicate those they do not approve of instead of welcoming differences.
I firmly believe there are so many other factors that come into play with an individual’s propensity toward violence other than the birthplace or religious beliefs of an individual. Upbringing, ability to forgive and accept, ability for gratitude, ability to care for others, selflessness, joy, capacity for kindness … all contributors toward happiness in one’s own skin and therefore towards others. Sure, sure, these are qualities that one can learn and develop, but these can also be squashed with callous care and inattention. Are we creating these monsters? Are we who busy ourselves day-in and day-out with the tasks that surround rearing younger generations, are we responsible in part for the poor behavior and horrible judgment of those that are behaving so heinously?
How does one come to the conclusion that it is okay to kill another? Where does this come from? Is it ease of buying a weapon? Is it the inability to take responsibility for one’s actions? Is it untreated mental illness? Is it bullying during one’s youth? What could possibly enable/allow an individual to get a gun, take it to a nightclub and start shooting? To literally go into the building and riddle every person inside with multiple bullets? I just don’t understand. I cannot wrap my brain around what happened, around why it happened, around how this could possibly have happened again.
I haven’t talked about this with my kids. I don’t know how to tell them yet. To be honest, we have had a number of issues recently at home with retaliation amongst our boys. And sure, one boy coming up with a scheme to get back at his brother is not on par with taking an assault rifle into a nightclub and start firing. But couldn’t that be the beginning? Isn’t the underlying issue we hear from these apparently never-ending attacks the same: the feeling of being put-upon or not being given equal opportunity; the need to redeem one’s self; the feeling of being lesser; wanting to get revenge. Fairness. Equality. Well guess what, folks? Life is not fair. Life is not equal. Sometimes your piece of the pie is actually going to be the smallest. Sometimes, though, it will be the biggest, or have the most frosting or be the pettiest. It will not hurt you to have less. Or more. Or be last. Or to lose. Or to not finish. Instead of feeling put out about (insert incident here, choose to learn from the experience. Choose to grow. Change. To do better next time. But don’t kill your competitors or compadres. Don’t get angry; learn. Grow. Or find something else to aim for.
It is not always about you. Perhaps, though it should more often be about us. And because of us, we need to do better. You want to call attention to yourself somehow? You want to do or be something special? You want to be remembered? How about being remember for doing something amazingly generous or beautiful? How about an astonishing act of kindness? Isn't that a much better act to be remembered for?
“Because hate, ugly, evil and prejudice cannot silence love, courage, good.” – Orlando shooting survivor