With the continuing tragedies occurring in our schools across the nation, a good friend of mine, Diana Roth, wrote her concerns on Facebook. It is well written and has put into words what a lot of us are feeling. It is lengthy, but worth the time to sit, read, ponder and consider what we might do to begin to eliminate what is happening altogether. Many of us have raised our families, but what about our grandchildren? What might each of us do to encourage change in actions, deeds and laws?
Thanks, Diana, for your permission to publish these thoughts.
From a concerned and loving heart
On this February 14, when our children are in schools innocently enjoying their Valentine cookies and cupcakes and when our hearts and minds are focused on thinking of ways to honor and delight those we love, along comes the news of what I understand to be the insanity of the 18th school shooting of the year. Oh, how my heart is aching and my mind feels the absolute disgust of a society where this can happen repeatedly. Once again, the television view of children in single file being led out of the war zone we call school, brings tears to my eyes. The innocence of these cherished children and the sorrow inflicted on their lives and the lives of their families overwhelms me and leaves me with such a feeling of utter despair and hopelessness. I can only think of wanting to change the culture that leads to such tragedy but the feeling of helplessness prevails.
Is it the anger and lack of tolerance we have for others unlike ourselves? Is it the parenting by adults who fail to lead by good moral example or are too permissive or who are, themselves, products of a damaged society and are somehow innocently numb to such an unprincipled culture? Is the fact that intimacy with others has been replaced by communication via text and social media and parents spend far too much time ignoring children and choose instead to be on their screens staying up to date with their social media? Is it the emotional and sexual abuse of parents and others that has been inflicted on America's children, leaving them with various degrees of mental illness? Is it a video game industry that defies supervision by adults and parents, but seeminly introduces gaming innocently, and, step by step, leads to video games that present unbelievable violence and gore and other anti-social behaviors? Is it the remarkably easy access to guns and knives? Is it an alcohol and drug culture where the goal is to numb all of our minds so we can't think clearly and where violence is at the very core of the industry? Is it a film and television industry where the eyes of our young people witness murder and gore and become accustomed to such sights and consider visual vulgarities a casual and bizarrely acceptable fact of life? Is it a music industry in which violence against others is clearly spoken and where the lack of empathy or respect is a common theme? Each movie and television producer and director and each musical artist tries to create scenes and words that are new and unique to be able to sell their product. In doing so, they lack the imagination to do so without resorting to introducing a shock value in the form of violence and vulgarities. Is it a television industry where, even comedy, models sarcastic and disrespectful language and behavior. Is there no way to have music and film that models humanity and kindness so children (and adults) are able to comprehend a gentler world? Is it a government model where participants cannot even try to get along? Is it the frenetic flurry in which we live - where there is no time for peaceful thoughts and introspection? Is it a culture where there is more respect for those with money than those with compassion? Is it because we live in a world where the opinions expressed are those of the extreme conservative or extreme liberals and the voices of reason have been lost?
We have created a culture where extremes are the norm in our childrens' lives and they live in a world where only excitement and the thrill of the extreme satisfies and peaks their curiosity. How can we ever transform our lives to be able to live in a world of simplcity and gentleness, with a compassionate value for human life and love for all people, when we live in a world of violence and hatred? And when will it happen that we aren't bombarded with news reports featuring local mayors and police chiefs and our favorite newscasters with the now mundane play by play desciptions of violence in our schools? We listen and watch and shake our heads at the futility and the hopelessness of it all. Or we (and, yes, I mean "I") go to the internet or gather around the water fountain to piously express our opinions. But nothing changes, and we send our children off daily to their war zones hoping that it won't happen in our neighborhood. All of us babble on and on about the critical importance of freedom of choice and our human rights - the right to own weapons, the right to see movies we want, the right to speak the words we want, listen to the music we choose. Well, when do our children have a choice and right NOT TO DIE and what do we have to do to create such a climate in this world?