Saturday, December 22, 2012

What If? Part 2

Jon Katz wrote on his blog last week: "I knew it was not my place to add to all of the anguished words about it. There was nothing for me to say, always a strange place for a writer. Some things are beyond words, even though we are awash in them. Sometimes, silence is a powerful statement." 

I should probably follow his lead. I doubt I have anything new to say and words aren't really going to make a difference now. BUT (Sweetie hates it when I say add a but!), words and thoughts are swirling around my head like powdered sugar in the kitchen where I've been baking cookies.

When a tragedy hits us at home, in our neighborhoods, states and country, Americans are outraged. As well they should be. But why surprised? It's as if Americans believe we can somehow be spared the horror that happens every day somewhere else. Just a few days before the CT shootings, we paused in silence to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. And what about 9/11? As awful as those events were, what made them even worse was the loss of our collective innocence. I've heard it said the Connecticut shootings were more horrific because innocent children were involved, but I've had a tough time accepting that notion. In my mind it was horrible because it was horrible.  Awful, scary, and senseless - period. Of all those lives lost none was more valuable than another; violence is no respecter of age, gender, race, color or religion.

 I guess that's what's been on my mind. Violence, with a capital "V." Pundits say l
imit the amount of exposure to violent movies, videos, or computer games. The impact of violence for children is cumulative. Why stop with video games? Why not add TV news and reality shows, talk radio, road rage, and moms and dads smacking each other around?

 I can't grieve for children I didn't know. But I do grieve a world that has become so innured to violence. After the media moves on to the next awful/ sensational story, what happened in CT will fade into that part of American's brains where we hide the things we want to forget. Until the next time. And the hard truth is innocent lives are lost every single day in this crazy, f!#*!ked up world. Somewhere on Google you can find statistics to back me up, but I'll just throw out some numbers. According to the World Health Organization ( violence is the leading cause of death in people between 15-44. Children, women, senior citizens are abused every day. Worldwide, it's estimated that 1 in 4 women are raped. Add to that the women and children who fall prey to sex traffickers, slavery, exploitaion and pornography. And let's not forget armed conflicts around the world where suicide bombers, IED's and land mines kill and maim at random. What horrifies me is that children around the world, not just those in Sandy Hook, go to sleep at night knowing what gunfire sounds like. It has become as much a part of them as rustling Autumn leaves, bird songs, and water trickling over rocks.

Politicians, lobbyists, talking heads, mental health professionsals, and bloggers like me are all looking for answers.
  Personally I think if we can send a man to the moon, we can figure out how to wrap kids up in bullet-proof bubble suits, like those old fashioned snow suits we used to wear. Some of the answers may be found in Washington DC. They may be found in think tanks, churches, synogogues or mosques. They may be found on Google. I believe, for what it's worth, the first place to search is inside our own hearts. Instead of pointing fingers, what if we reach out and touch someone else's life for the good. Kindness begets kindness. Love begets love. It sounds pretty simplistic. I know love can't stop bullets, but change has to start somewhere. Love is as good a place as any.

 Here it is almost Christmas. I'm reminded that the baby born to light the darkness had to flee to Egypt to escape mass genocide. Things haven't changed so much in 2000 years. We're all running from something. Maybe the answer is to stop and look around. Maybe if you Love the one you're next to, the light from that holy star will begin to shine again. One of the songs I play at Christmastime but forget throughout the year is John Lennon's Imagine.

.... nothing to kill or die for
... all the people living life in peace"

Don't you think "Imagine" is just another way of saying "what if?" Here's what I've been imagining lately:

What if a kind word or a smile, could make a difference in someone's life. Then maybe that someone would swallow the ugly words about to foul the air or his a fist will be unclenched.

What if all it takes for a harried mother to stop before she smacks her kid is to have someone step in and say, "here, let me help."

What if violent video games were replaced with an unarmed game of hide and seek or chess?

What if cell phone aps were replaced with dinner time conversations that begin with "How was your day?"

What if please and thank you took the place of four-letter words?

What if bosses handed out compliments instead of pink slips.

What if stop signs had smiley faces? And yield signs said, "after you."

What if "what's best for everyone" took the place of partisan politics?

What if school days and work days started with what we call passing the peace in my church and ended with, "Have a nice night?"

What if those with more than enough shared with those without?

What if along with a tip everyone left a note that stated the thing they liked best about the service they received? I loved the way you kept my glass filled. Or you're the best bagger I've ever had.

What if instead of looking the other way, we all carried a granola bar or a pair of socks with us and handed them to the homeless person with a cardboard sign that says "Please Help?

What if every day at noon, we paused for a five minutes to take some deep breaths and be still?

What if every old person was assigned a younger person to share their life story with?

What if every young person had an old person to color with?

What if having mental illness was like wearing glasses - some do, some don't, no big deal?

What if being a member of a gang meant you had to clean up your side of the street?

What if instead of menstruation, going to school, having babies, and female wisdom were revered as the miracles they are?

What if boys and girls respected and shared each others' abilities.

What if every baby born was considered royalty?

What if instead of going into space scientists devised a way to clean up the space(s) we have right here on Earth?

And since we can't pray in schools anymore, what if this poem was recited instead.
You, you may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one 

Want to join me?

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest,
Merry ME

1 comment:

Mary said...

I want to join you, Merry.

You expressed it very well with what you said in your post, both the first part and the second part. Nice way to acknowledge the senseless and then put some hope back into things.
The darkness can only win if we refuse to see the light.