A few days ago, about 15 people gathered by the Community Christmas Tree in Mitchell, SD to stand in silence regarding the rampant violence in our country. Since the latest school shooting, gun violence has been at the helm of our country discussion with everyone claiming a position. Some believe more guns will help. Others believe that less guns will help. And then we have the middle roaders who simply want something done on a National level to ease these overwhelming amounts of violence that fills our lives.
Scapegoating has taken place in the form of blaming the media, video games, TV, President Obama and once that happens more position taking happens. Each side gearing up to defend or support their position.
A few folks have written rational statements, but even if these get circulated via our social networks, they really don’t get the “likes” that staunch positions seem to get. The truth is I don’t expect too much to change.
The NRA holds National power and money, the media is the media and its job is to report the news and sell their product, TV and video fall in this same category…as long as we buy violent video games they will continue to make them. As long as we watch violent TV and movies, they will continue to make them. It appears violence sells.
Why? Why does violence sell in what some believe is the greatest country on Earth?
Violence makes my stomach hurt and yet, I too will attend a movie of which the bad guys lose and the good guys win and in most cases there is violence. The bad guys are about to win and the good guy is losing the fight, but then at the last minute, the good guy gains super human strength and overpowers the bad guy…
Whew! Good wins once again! I wonder if our desire to see the good guy win is based on the bad guy appearing to win in real life.
In real life, we have school bus bullies and not a real effort to manage such things. We have work place bullies and hostile working environments that never get resolved. We have the mindset that getting one’s way by overpowering, lying, cheating and scapegoating is okay because really the ends does justify the means. We have a justice system that puts to prison one ethnic and socio-economic individual over another ethnic and socio-economic individual for the exact or lesser crime. The real life examples could continue.
And then we have the religious voice that has convinced itself Jesus was a doormat and in order to “be a good Christian” one cannot stand in the face of bad behavior and name it for what it is for if one does then one becomes part of the problem rather than the solution.
I heard this Buddhist story recently: A student of Buddhism was attending a meditation retreat and during a break, she walked downtown. While downtown, she was attacked by a man who wanted her purse. She fought to get away, but later became upset by her response so she went to see her Buddhist teacher. Telling her Buddhist teacher the story, she asked what she should have done. The Buddhist teacher replied, “With all the loving kindness you can muster up knock the person over the head with your umbrella.”
You see being a person of faith does not require us to be doormats. We can look in the face of injustice and speak loudly against it while having loving kindness toward the person who is doing the injustice or violence. We can see where bullying behavior exists in our schools, churches, workplaces and work to dismantle it. We can voice our opposition to exploitation, oppression, lying, cheating, and manipulating even if it means we are viewed as being “part of the problem.”
In fact, I think our faith requires us to.