Thursday, January 15, 2015

Making a Difference

When I was in my 20's young men in my community were killed in Vietnam.

Last month, a young man in my community was killed on his own doorstep, by someone who wanted his wallet.

I don’t see any difference among these situations. Whether I knew the deceased, or not. Whether the war was declared by a government, or not. People imagined they were solving their problems with guns.  Somebody insulted their country, their religion, their tax structure, or just had the money they needed to buy drugs.

The impacts of war and crime are the same.

Families and communities receive word that the people they love are dead.

We need to be there to help each other.

And, yes, I have an arbitrary definition of help.  In many cases, we are helpless. And often the best we can do is admit we are helpless and then keep on doing what we can.

Which is the segue into the other half of this topic.  

I started thinking about how I would feel if I thought I were soon to be dead. How would I want to spend my last few minutes, or seconds? What would I want to say to my assailant, if I had the chance to talk?

At that point, is there any sense or value in being afraid or angry?

Is that how I want to spend any of my life? Let alone my last moments?

The anger and fear response is so easy – so ingrained. 

When I look at my life now and I see that anger and fear have been my responses to many minor events. To dinner table arguments, to silly web discussions, even to news stories about people I’ve never met. 

I remember as a teen being proud of myself for standing up for what was right, for being angry.  But all that anger accomplished nothing.

Thus, my next question becomes: how can I behave and think kindly in general?

And my first thought was if my children read this, they’ll be angry with me for all the times I didn’t live up to this ideal in the past. And my gut reaction to this thought is fear of what they will say.

I have to start somewhere. 

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