I generally avoid political topics, but this is breaking my heart so I have to share it.
In the aftermath of the shootings in Orlando, the debate is raging again between Second Amendment Rights and Gun Safety. As I write this, there is an old-fashion sit-in happening in the well of the House of Representatives. They are planning on staying there until they get a vote on some gun legislation before they go on summer break this Friday. They are using the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak
Then I saw this photo on my Facebook feed posted by a mother:
This little girl is only three, and she is practicing for a mass shooter drill! What are we coming to as a nation when this is what passes as “normal” for a pre-school child? (Mom’s story)
As I look at this picture, read the newspaper, watch the news, and observe my neighbors, I get a sense what we need isn’t a change in the gun laws what we need is a change of heart.
It has become acceptable to respond in an aggressive way when we have had our feelings, feel cheated, feel disrespected, or have been treated unjustly.
Here are a few examples:
One of my students shoved another student in my classroom. When asked why he responded, “He dissed me.” He had felt disrespected when the student he pushed had asked him to move to take a seat at the table, the second boy hadn’t intended to offend. All of the boys agreed that if someone is disrespectful to you or offends you, by all rights you can shove, trip or hit.
At a local grocery store this month, a man intentionally crashed his pick-up truck into the front doors of the market. His reason? He had been escorted off the property an hour earlier and told not to come back because he had been shoplifting. The store manager could have called the police, but decided not to as the man was young, so he gave him a break.
A woman was shot on the freeway recently because she changed lanes in front of a man who felt she had cut him off. Maybe she did, but did she deserve to be shot?
There a many television shows where the violent response is used to solve problems.
Then there is the lack of common civility. I rarely have someone return a smile or good morning. I seldom hear excuse me or thanks. Everyone seems closed and walled off from each other.
My students tell me they would rather tweet, Facebook, or text a friend. They don’t know how to have a conversation.
Somewhere between my childhood and middle-age, the world changed. There was a time when we used please and thank you, treated others with respect even when they didn’t treat us that way, and having a gun was more of a hobby than protection. We talked. We listened. We didn’t hit, stab, or shoot someone if they disagreed with us.
I don’t know what the answer is. All I know is too many people are dying due to violence in this country. We have gun laws, but are they uniformly enforced? Are they making a difference? Will more laws help? I haven’t a clue.
What I do know is we’ve grown cold hearts if we keep allowing this to continue it’s only going to get worse. I can’t change the world, but I can change my responses. As the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I can be respectful when others are not. I can give a smile to a stranger. I can be kind.