I’ve purposely put off writing this post for a number of weeks, though I’ve been thinking about it, formulating it, rehearsing it, and editing it. Ever since the Charleston, South Carolina shooting this past June. Actually, ever since the Columbine High School shooting. And ever since the Pearl, Mississippi shooting. And ever since the Virginia Tech shooting. And ever since the bombing at the Boston Marathon. And ever since the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. And yes, ever since my son was shot and killed a year ago.
When did it become okay to enter a movie theater and shoot people who were there to relax and enjoy themselves? It had never occurred to me that if I went to a movie with Kim, or if my daughters went to a movie, our lives . . . your lives . . . might be in jeopardy because someone might pull out a gun and start shooting randomly.
When did it become okay for someone to go to a church and sit in a prayer group or a Bible study and begin shooting people because of the color of their skin? I’ve always thought of a church as a place of peace and a place for prayer and thoughtful meditation. Never would I have to worry about someone who might be unhinged enough to want to kill. Never.
When did it become okay for a disgruntled, bullied child to enter a school and begin shooting either because he or she didn’t think they’d get help, or perhaps didn’t seek help, or perhaps, they just wanted to get even on their own terms? It never occurred to me in my thirty-nine years in education, the kids and the staff . . . my kids and my staff . . . might be in jeopardy.
When did it become okay for one kid to shoot at another kid because of a difference in gangs and turf and territory? And in so doing, when did it become okay for innocent bystanders, those who happened to be on the street at the wrong time and in the wrong place, to be shot and killed? It never occurred to me that it would be dangerous to walk to a restaurant, do some shopping and walk back home. It never occurred to me that my life, one’s life, would be in jeopardy.
When did it become okay for someone whose religion “tells” them to strap on a bomb, walk to a crowded area, and set it off, taking not only that life, but the lives of many innocent men, women and children? In the name of . . . who, exactly? I don’t think my God would ever ask me to do that, because I’ve always believed in a God of mercy, and forgiveness, and love.
When did it become okay to minimize and marginalize groups of people? When did it become okay for a candidate for President of the United States can get cheers and chuckles for calling women bimbos, saying that one or more of them is fat, that one or more is ugly? When did it become okay for a candidate to say that an entire group of people, an entire race of people, are drug dealers, prostitutes, criminals? I’ve always wanted leaders to lead by example, not by bombastic rhetoric. I’ve always wanted leaders to speak the truth, not just the flavor of the moment, to speak the truth, and not just something that might get him or her elected. I’ve always wanted leaders to bring people together, not pull us apart. I’ve always wanted leaders to remember that our past was built by those disenfranchised, those persecuted, and those who struggled to survive and who came to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families.
So, I ask you again, when did all of this become okay? Why aren’t we doing something about it?
Why does it seem that there are more and more people getting shot and killed for no apparent reason? Why is there a lack of tolerance for those whose opinions are different from ours, whose beliefs are different from ours, whose skin color or gender or sexual orientation is different from ours? It seems to me that refusal to serve others because of their beliefs, because of their religion or race, because of their sexuality was done before in history: Germany with Jews and Catholics, and other groups; the United States with our Black citizens in the 50’s and 60’s. Why is it okay now? Why the sudden change?
What makes it okay for a bakery to not make a cake for a wedding because the couple might be the same sex? Seems to me that back in our own history, we did that once before with signs on doors that read, “Blacks Not Welcome!” or with separate water fountains and separate bathrooms. Exactly why was this okay then, and why is it okay now? Seems to me that we’ve just exchanged one group of people with a different group of people.
Why are our stadiums filled with people who flock to listen to candidates who lie, who are callous, who are arrogant, who can’t be trusted, who aren’t compassionate, who don’t have our best interests at heart? How is this okay? Is it because one gives free rides to kids in a helicopter? Is it because he speaks the loudest or because he is more outrageous than any other candidate? Does that make it okay?
I suppose there are those who might label me a liberal, as someone from the far left, when actually, I consider myself to be a moderate and an independent. I consider myself as someone who cares about people, who tries to see the good in people, who tries to build up instead of tearing down, who seeks to lend a hand and speak an encouraging word, who would rather be optimistic then pessimistic.
So I guess the answer to my own question, “What Makes It Okay?” is that I believe it is because we’ve not done enough, listened enough, or cared enough. I believe it is because we’ve not extended a helping hand or an open heart. I believe it is because we spend so much time talking, arguing, and persuading, that we’ve not taken the time to listen and to understand. And that is simply not okay. Not okay at all. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!