Yesterday, here in my beloved hometown of Colorado Springs, at a Planned Parenthood clinic, we had the second mass shooting in as little as a few weeks. I wish first to express my deepest condolences to those families and friends affected by this kind of ludicrous violence that is becoming a regular phenomenon in American culture. I also want thank CSPD for their quick response and selfless actions to “Protect and Serve” in its best definition.
Sadly this will not be the last time we deal with this kind of violence and indiscriminate death. This is a cultural problem in ways that I don’t think we truly comprehend or appreciate. We howl and rightfully express outrage at Daesh and Al Qaeda for their bloodlust. In truth, however, we have serious problems with domestic terrorism on almost a monthly basis and we are not addressing the problem.
We have yet to comprehend the extraordinary power of the Information Age. The flood of stimulus and information we are now bombarded with is literally driving us crazy. With this flood of opinion, media, and entertainment we are loosing touch with “the quiet still voice within”. In place of genuinely communicating and trying to understand our fellow human beings we are demonizing and trivializing the humanity out of them entirely. I believe that the rise of mass shootings, the rise of the internet, and the 24 hour news cycle, are intrinsically related. Social media has done a tremendous amount of good in the world but it also has a tragic and undeniable dark side.
Since I am posting this on my blog I am aware of the irony of what I am about to say, but we need to unplug. We are grossly underestimating the awesome power of the Information Age. Bombarded as we are by articles and relentless examples of the evils of the world, is it any wonder that some of us are loosing our minds and giving in wholly to despair?
As a society we have become so deft at demonizing, trivializing, and stereotyping one another that we are already handing bullets to the next gunman saying:
“Here take these. Go out and kill the people who disagree with you and have victimized you. They’re not human anyway.”
Look at the comments section of YouTube, watch a news talk show on CNN, MSNBC, Fox (or any other media outlet) and you will see the anger, disrespect, and venom we hurl at one another on a daily basis. We have to stop treating each other this way; we no longer have a choice. We must learn to be civil and respectful with each other, especially when we vehemently disagree. The backlash of this day to day onslaught on each other is placing our kids in the crosshairs of madmen and destroying families.
As a people we must start taking the time to sit and listen to the beating of our own heart. We are wholly adopting the outlook and perceptions of others and have forgotten how to listen to the quiet simple and steady rhythm within. As a people we must take the time to turn off our computers, smart phones, radios, and televisions. Put down the books, the newspapers, and magazines and start remembering how to listen to the quiet voice inside. The more we listen this voice the more it will speak. Our voice within has real brilliance at making us feel more connected to others and dispelling our suspicions. Our voice within has a real knack at dispelling despair and giving us hope. Unless more of us start listening to this voice, teaching our children to listen to this voice, and genuinely trying to understand those we don’t understand, we can expect these mass shootings to continue, and we collectively share responsibility.
If you are a journalist take responsibility for the tremendous power you wield in creating the perceptions of fellow human beings. If you’re a preacher, rabbi, imam, or priest please teach your congregations that basic respect and dignity towards your “enemies” is essential in demonstrating their faith and their values. If you’re a politician start making a principled stand for common sense background checks for every firearm sold in this country, and more importantly, refuse to treat politicians and statesmen of the opposite party with anything but respect. America needs leaders in every aspect of society to start modeling civil and respectful discourse. If they don’t, they help arm the next gunman.
The spirits of those who have died in these shootings are crying out to us to start treating each other with dignity and respect. That is truly how we honor their absense. We no longer have the luxury of treating each other as anything less than sacred and precious human beings. Obviously we are always going to disagree and argue with one another. But in order to save our kids, and families, we must start trying to understand each other rather than make unfounded and ignorant assumptions about each others motives. When we fail to do this we are handing ammunition to the next gunman and giving them our blessing.