So, there are so many places I could take this blog and so many things I want to say. I am not sure how well or cohesive any of this will be. After initially deciding I would sleep on all of this, my brain just won't stop and I need to get this out.
Let me first just say, once again, that my thoughts are truly with all those in Newtown this evening. Sending love and light your way.
Let me also say that I do think it is more important than ever to remember all of the good in this world. In these hours, it can be really hard to remember, but I think it is extremely important to remember the good.
Our society is facing so many hurdles today. I will be the first to admit, that life is hard. It isn't easy to make it in today's world. We all need love and support from cradle to grave. Even those of us that get it and are grateful for it, still find life hard.
In a world of tweets, posts, blogs and texts. In a world where we have little civil discourse, in a world where reality TV is what people watch, we have seriously lost our ability and willingness to talk, to really connect. We post on Facebook and "like"posts. We disagree with a post and either ignore it, or respond. I like to think there is still room for purposeful, helpful, respectful and civil debate, but I am starting to think it just isn't possible.
I feel like more and more of us are shrinking our worlds. We only socialize with those who agree with us, we are only Facebook friends with those who agree with us. If we don't agree with something we change the channel or just say "they are lying" and move on. We are able to be passively involved with the world at all levels and are rarely required to actively participate, in anything.
We can send papers from home, we can have classroom discussions from home, we can e-mail out of work if we are sick. We break-up via text, fight over Facebook and hide behind tweets. We can pretty much say anything we want when we comment on a blog, post on an article and never be asked to do anything more. It requires no guts and more often than not, just lives in eternity as a post or blog. I know ironic, as I am doing the same thing here, but I asking something scary of us all. I am asking that we all start talking again.
Yes, like, face-to-face talking.....
I know it is so much easier to type. I know it isn't as scary to be rejected over e-mail, or over Facebook. I feel like all of this impersonal communication has somehow made it easier for all of us to treat others like crap. We think of people as Facebook statuses, e-mails, tweets or texts. It somehow takes the humanity out of everything. We can point fingers, call each other Hitler, Racist, etc. Everything is much easier to do virtually, remotely and I feel like it has turned everyone so very, incredibly, ugly. When you build someone else into a character, it is much so easier to slay them publicly and personally.
I feel like it is nearly impossible to have any type of productive conversation when you are coming at the person across the table in this way. Why not sit next to each other first. Why are there winners and losers, makers and takers. Why is everything us vs. them, these days.
Why is it nearly impossible to have real conversations. Why am I, the person that fears conflict more than anyone, able to so easily recognize one of the biggest problems we have as a society--our complete and utter inability to know how to handle negotiations, conflict management, anger management. Why am I noticing this and calling for change.
We see it everywhere. So many people are totally incapable of sitting next to each other and finding a way to come up with a solution. Or even want to try these days. From professional athletes, to union leaders, congress, friends and family members. Why is the "easiest" answer for so many, violence? Name Calling? Slandering, etc?
No, I have no illusions here, I am fairly confident much of societal challenges that lead to violence can also be traced to mental health issues. Whether it be depression, anger, or psychosis. I am a huge advocate for getting people screened and turning mental health awareness into a real national platform. Asking for help should be empowering, not embarrassing. There are so many folks that are dealing with so much. We need to make access to counseling, medication, etc. at least as easy as it is to get a gun. We need to remember the importance of love, kindness, coping skills, emotional intelligence, hope, compassion, empathy and support. We need to be careful with labeling and loving in our desire to reach out.
I also feel like there is just a general lack of negotiation/compromising skills.
We need to think about what we are teaching our children. We need to wrap our children in these holistic philosophies that realize that it is not only their mind that needs an education, but also their body and spirit. We need to make bullying as uncool as tight rolling jeans are today. We need to bring issues of mental health to the forefront. Educate and empower parents, teachers and friends to recognize warning signs. We need to put more LOVE out into the world.
We need to be more gentle to one another. I have no doubt many will read this and think I am just a wuss, none of this will help, humans are violent by nature. Sure, we are violent, but I have no doubt that there are things we can do to curtail violence towards others. There are skills we can teach, qualities we can reward, screenings that can be done and compassion that can be felt that may all begin to slowly help begin a shift. Begin a shift of consciousness. Help everyone truly realize, finally, that we are all human. That we are all in this together, that until we address the root of all of this, nothing will ever really be solved. Until we can get people the Love and supports they need, we will continue to feel this heartache and pain.
There will always be people who kill others, I have no doubt. There will always be people who will hurt others, I have no doubt. But this doesn't mean I am just going to say "Ok, never mind, there clearly is no answer, why even bother." Hell no, I am sorry. This is too important.
I have no doubt that even if we put stricter gun laws in now, and required background checks for all purchases (which I 100% support), it wouldn't solve the problems of people buying guns illegally from others, stealing guns from others, or deal with the millions of guns already in the hands of people in this country, etc. Unless and until we are able to work on the people using the guns, there is only so much we can do. (I also am for, overall, banning high capacity clips (no one non-military needs 100 round clips, I am sorry).
This is so much more than gun laws. This is so much more than mental health concerns. This is a very deep and real problem in our society. I feel like every six months I sit down and watch the news in disbelief. And, this is only me talking about these massive, publicized shootings. This isn't even getting to those that are killed in D.C. and Chicago every day. This doesn't even mention the professional athletes, celebritites, or teens that commit suicide daily because they feel like things just will not get better.
There is a real need for LOVE in our world today. There is a real need for understanding and compassion in our world today and there is a real need in learning to deal with problems and challenges in a non-violent way. There is a real need to talk to each other, there is a real need to re-learn how to have a conversation with someone we disagree with, conflict negotiation skills. There is a real need to learn how to debate without demonizing. There is a real need to learn how to ask for help, to learn how to express ones feelings and emotions. There is a real need to re-brand counseling and school psychologists. There is a real need to learn how to discuss not just what our ideas are, by why they are important to us, and what we hope to get out of our ideas. There is also then, equally important, the real need to listen to those that do not agree with us and listen to their ideas and why they are important to them. There is a real need to stop the name calling and stop trying to have evening cable news compete with Snooky, that is not its' purpose. We need leaders, not reality stars.
I know there is so much LOVE, we just need to talk about the love, broadcast the love on channel 7, have warm and fuzzy news, we need to remind each other, every day, of this Love.
We need leaders to show us and model for us how to talk, how to have real conversations, because clearly we cannot. We shut down when we disagree, we shut down when challenged and we shut down when we are scared and don't know what to say. With all this shutting down, we are afraid to offend, we are afraid to disagree and we are afraid to be honest. We need to be productive, and we need to talk. We need to not be afraid. We need to stop just saying "now is not the time" and be willing to have the tough conversations, because if we don't do it now, we will all just be asking "why" and "how" all over again in 3 months and then 3 months from then.
We need real people to model positive, personal relationships for us. We need people to model real life relationships, not reality TV ones. We need to stop scaring people, we need to stop making people fear things that do not exist. We need to lift, up, we need to encourage. We shouldn't discourage and scare.
Until we are willing to start the conversations, we will never start working towards the solutions. This is a much bigger problem than gun laws, and mental health screenings and background checks, this is a real societal problem. I reach out my hand, as I always try to do, to the N.R.A. to conservatives and to gun owners across the country. I say to you all, I am not trying to take your guns, I am looking to you all to join this conversation. We are asking how to stop this, not how to take your guns. Maybe you have some ideas about how we can address this that DO NOT include gun laws. Maybe you do something with gun owners, that we should do with more folks.
Washington, the "leaders" of debate, I think you all need to read the book "Getting to Yes." I read it for the 4th time recently as part of a book club and couldn't believe how clueless you all are again. I understand things are much different in theory than in practice, but everything you are NOT supposed to do in negotiation, is what you all do each and every day. I would also invite the NHL into all of these conversations.
How do we expect our kids to be able to handle a disagreement, or conflict when their politicians can't, their parents can't, their friends can't, their professional athletes can't, etc. How do we expect to teach them anything when reality stars are glamorized and make millions for bitch slapping, flipping tables, fighting, throwing down and bullying. What are we teaching, what are we modeling? We need to turn off the TV and turn to each other. We need to love and support each other not just during tragedies, but always.
We need to teach more basics at home and in school. We need to think long and hard about where we are as a society and find a way to connect to each other personally, in real time. It is a lot easier to offend someone on-line than it is to walk up to them and let them know they did something that really hurt your feelings. It is much easier to add your comment to the bottom of an article in the newspaper than it is to actually find a way to contact that person and have a real live conversation.
So little that we do today has any accountability to it. You can do pretty much anything from the safety of your home, bedroom, apartment or dorm room. You can really coast along today without being reached out to. You can show up every day, never really being there. You can participate daily, all while never really participating at all.
I am sad, I am exhausted for having these thoughts, and I am frustrated that we keep having the same "national conversation" while never really talking about anything at all. One "side" gets scared by the letters N.R.A. and the other "side" gets scared by the letters OBAMA.
We need to all find a way to be more connected, we need to all find a way to be a piece of the peace. We need to try and re-engage one another. All knowing that nothing will always be perfect and there will always be violence, but we need to LOVE. We need to show compassion and we need to be more gentle with one another.
I cannot imagine being a child today. I find myself saying this often. I don't remember feeling that way when I was little. We need to turn off our TVs, put down our computers and connect. We need to re-engage with the world, re-engage with society and demand more. I know that I don't really have any answers, but I really think talking, is the first step.
In moments like these, it can be really hard to remember all of the good in the world, however, I think, now more than ever it is really important to remember all of the good in this world. Remember all of the love in this world. I think we should all do a Care Bear Stare, of sorts, and try and send as much love as we can out into this world. I have to believe if one person can bring so much heartache and grief, that there are millions of us, fighting back with love, understanding and determination.
We need to wake up before a tragedy and stay awake after the next one....
Sending love and light.....
And that's all she wrote....
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."
-- Mister Rogers