Lupus Alae

Spiritflights, fledgling and ancient


If it takes a village...

I generally stay away from political discussions, and feel that they're not often productive in the sense of actually moving anything important forward. But there comes a time when aversion to getting muddy amounts to hiding one's head in the sand, and that I will not do.

It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts in the aftermath of the Saturday shooting in Arizona that claimed six lives and wounded over a dozen others, including the probable target, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. I don't want to spend too much space relating my feelings about this utterly senseless violence. I'm too sad to be angry and too deeply concerned about the causes and implications to just let it go and be content with sending up prayers and sending out positive healing energy to all who are hurting, grieving, questioning right now.

Why do these things happen? Who is responsible? The easy answers, the ones that allow us to sleep at all at night, come quickly:

It happens because so-and-so is a sick, psychopathic individual with no morality.

It's the shooter's fault and his alone; he made the decision to pull the trigger.

He was just waiting for an matter what anyone did, this dude was gonna find a way to kill someone. It couldn't have been foreseen.

Perhaps. But what brings an individual to that point in the first place? Is anyone born evil? Have you ever looked into the eyes of an infant and thought, This one's a bad apple; you can see it already. Better warn his parents! ?

I haven't.

I'm not going to play the blame game, per se. In fact, I think our haste in finding a scapegoat and mercilessly directing our negativity toward that person or thing is part of the underlying problem. To Jared Loughner, Rep. Giffords was his scapegoat, the person he'd decided was responsible for the problems he couldn't overlook.

Blame isn't productive. It sometimes costs lives.

However, I would like to encourage everyone to consider our own accountability -- to every other person out there. Society is what we make it, and our actions today shape the world we live in today, not just at some airy future point of fruition. The people who live in our society are affected by it, by our words and actions. And we get so desensitized to so many things over time that we aren't even consciously aware of the things we do that add nothing good.

Think about it: In a given day, how much of what you say to people, write online, text, etc. is positive? I'm willing to bet that it's significantly less than 50%, if we're honest with ourselves. If negativity rules our communications, it's no wonder then that society is bogged down with toxic news and spiteful interactions and the kinds of things that don't make anyone feel calmer, safer, happier, or more interested in truly listening to one another.

I don't have easy answers. Maybe I don't have any of them. But it seems to me that if we take care to add more of what is bright and positive and trim back our negative contributions, maybe we'd benefit in ways we can't even fathom right now.

I'm not suggesting that we stop saying what is honest and sometimes painfully necessary; open dialogue is a beautiful thing. What I am doing is questioning the necessity of saying some of what regularly makes its way into our conversations, Facebook posts, and headlines. Think about how often words like stupid, hate, fat, crazy, and others find voice, and how seldom complimentary things we think actually find their way to the party they reference. Negativity breeds negativity; likewise, the more positive energy and thought we put out, the more we're likely to encounter in our own direction (and the easier it becomes to focus on expressing the good that's in our hearts and minds instead of just passing by with it unspoken).

My grandmother has this on her refrigerator door:

When considering whether to say or repeat something, first consider:
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
If not, let it remain unsaid!

I don't believe that everything we say has to be positive, but I do believe in weighing the merit of expression. If something is hurtful or inflammatory, then unless it's necessary for reasons other than hearing oneself speak (self-expression is a freedom that comes with enormous responsibility, or should!), it may better serve everyone involved to let it fall into the abyss between thought and action.

If the media would follow suit as well, who's to say how much nastiness could be quietly bled from society, from our daily exposure to up-to-the-minute stories about more than anyone could ever possibly need to know?

I'll do my part, because if it truly takes a village, then I want that village to be a beneficial place that fosters (to the fullest extent of its influence) the kind of mind and heart that would never conceive of doing anything as heinous as what happened in Arizona on Saturday.


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