With all the controversy regarding school shootings, I am about to join the commentary - but with a slight twist...
Because, although I have my own thoughts regarding gun control, I think it doesn't take a rocket scientist or social analyst to figure out that this American 'disease' goes deeper than that...
The truth is, the disease has roots in the home and in the mind. Yes, we can call it a mental disease issue - but I don't think it's one that should simply be attributed to genetics, or solved with medication.
What I have seen, at least in my little corner of the country, is a growing lack of empathy, inclusivity, and just honest love.
I see a lot of smiles, and superficial friendships. Yes, let's include diversity of cultures and such (as long as they think like us - diversity of thought is much more penalized these days). And let's all just get along (until we don't, and then we will never speak again).
"We should meet for coffee," "I just love you!"... Laughing. But do we ever go on that coffee date? And when we do text, aren't you always just too busy - perhaps you don't even feel like it?
I have to admit - I do it too. As an introvert, I kind of avoid human contact if I can get away with it. I am so socially awkward, I am simply terrified at times of venturing out of my little hole. But this is not just because I am an introvert. It is because I know that many people who will say they like me, and even be nice to me, actually don't really like me, and at the flip of a dime, they will turn - because such and such said something negative or I said something dumb that will forever reside in their memory as the evil thing Susy said that made them realize how horrible I am...
Ok, some of you out there say, I shouldn't care. And I agree. But for the sensitive types like me, this is a tough thing to do. Something I am finally actively working on, thanks to some real good motivators, i.e. humans that help me see the light. But man, if I experience this as a freaking grown adult, in mom-land - heck, teenage-land must be BRUTAL.
I thought it was bad when I was growing up. Eating alone because I didn't fit in with any crowd. Because only people that were alike hung out...
I was smart, but not smart enough to play hard core chess with the 'nerds'. Was a musician but no longer in 'band', wasn't athletic enough to join sports. I did get along with various cultural groups, but never really got accepted as they would still have their 'our-culture-only' parties where I was explicitly not invited, for not being of that culture.
Yup, that did actually happen.
The only group that accepted me? A group that many others saw as sort of 'misfits'. Were they a sort of 'rebellious' group? Yeah - and that's precisely what I think made them accept me. The rules? Be cool, be nice. You're in. You said something I don't like? I'm telling you to your face. Then, let's go have lunch together. Simple. Honest.
Now, what was it that helped me tough it out? Keep on trekking? I had my biggest support group at home and at church. I had a plan for my future. But more than anything, I knew, in spite of all my terror of going to school everyday, I had GOD.
Everyday that I walked to school, I would talk with Him. Ask Him to help me make friends. To help me not have some clumsy or awkward moment that would make people laugh - again - at me. To help me be confident. To help me be secure. And to help me see the end goal that I knew I was on my way to achieve: the purpose He made me for.
I would even imagine my angels walking with me. I would share my doubts, my fears. Ask why people are so mean and why me - why was I so insecure? And one day at a time, I got through it.
I don't think everyone who knew me back then would have guessed I felt this way. Every class I would walk to, hoping no one would make fun of me again, or make me feel bad about myself. Of course, most people didn't do those mean things. But then again, most people didn't stand up against those that were mean either. It was brutal. It was hard to see. Teenagers are just trying to survive, I get it. And I think most people agreed they were being unjust and mean - but I was left alone to deal with it.
And where did those mean kids learn to treat people like that? Maybe it's gossiping parents that also talk like that about others. Maybe their parents treated them like that. Maybe it's overly indulgent parents that never disciplined and educated their children's behaviors - heck, maybe those kids even treated their own parents horribly.
So, what has gone wrong?
When I see the insane amount of bullying that goes on in social media - by adults - it's easy to see where kids get their life-lessons from...
So if it makes us feel better, sure, blame republicans, blame democrats - sure - blame the government. But at the end of the day, WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.
Because even if you can say you never talked bad or contributed to racist remarks, when did you stand up to people that you admired, and called them out on it? When did you befriend the one everyone else is hating on, knowing that you put yourself in a socially-awkward or even socially-damaging situation?
When do we go out of our way to help others feel LOVED?
Everywhere I go, people say, "I only hang out with people who build ME up." How about YOU being the person that builds THEM up?
The tragedies that are happening today are signs that what we are doing is NOT good ENOUGH. We cannot be complacent with our behavior and think, "...as long as I'm not killing, doing drugs, or having an affair, I'm OK." No, it's not.
In times of dire and straight up EVIL actions, they must be met with straight up RADICAL LOVE.
Should we change laws? Sure, whatever - the government should play the role it has to.
But we should not assume that we are off the hook. The violence that we propagate as a culture in this country is now in our schools, by our own homegrown. This is OUR problem to solve as well.
I remember a French native once telling me how shocked her and her compatriots were when they saw how 'sensitive' Americans were to films with nudity, but how open and accepting we were of horrifying and graphic violence. Even our porn is mostly about violence - for both men and women (50 shades, anyone??)
We must start a cleanse. A cleanse of our minds towards empathy, honesty, and genuine relationships. Doesn't mean you have to like everyone - it means you have to love them.
Too brutally honest? Maybe that's a breath of fresh air for some of you - and that's what I mean to do.
Here's to challenging times and meeting them head on with the grace of God to love others and speak truth when it needs to be heard...
Because I know we can all do better - myself included - we can be light.
God Bless you, and our little ones - and those that hurt so much...