How do we get rid of violence in our communities? We take steps to rid ourselves of the violence in our hearts, minds and souls.
Looking at ourselves honestly and seeing the violence we harbor within is a huge step towards riding ourselves and society of its egoic tendency for anger and callousness. It is natural to get angry at times, especially when something does not go your way, like getting cut off in traffic. Usually when we recognize the anger we feel stupid and ashamed. If we can monitor our anger and recognize it comes from the false self that is not who we are, we forgive and let it go.
We need to be honest with ourselves, however, to see the anger, realize it is the cause of so much guilt and then heal our mind with the love that is contained in every heart and mind. We have a choice: every time anger arises to recognize it (don’t deny it); see it; say "this is not who I am, I am love," and let it go. Love enters and peace is regained. We are all the good guys (we are all bad guys, too, but love will guide us).
One way we can be helpful to our neighbors in Roseburg (and ourselves) is to take some thoughtful action to realistically reduce violence in our society. Here are three ideas:
1) Refuse to watch violent programs showing the glorification of guns and violence on television programming. If we stop watching, there will not be any money in it. Years ago the advertising of hard liquor and cigarettes were taken off TV. Violent programs including guns are just as dangerous as liquor and cigarettes. These shows are advertising agents for the machinery of the gun industry.
Why do young men kill and why are they so angry? They are being horrifically mistreated by the “entertainment” industry. They are being fed a diet of violence on TV, video games and movies. Violence, murder and crime are considered entertainment because it makes money for TV stations, advertisers, writers, producers, actors, film makers and their production companies and more. The TV and movie industry will claim that violence came first, and they are mirroring society, but society is mirroring them. They will ask “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” That question has no answer but that doesn’t make feeding America a diet of violence ethical. But if we can stop watching their programs of violence and guns or purchase the advertisers products it will hurt the bottom line.
2) Fund mental health programs generously. Not only fund them, but put mental health on the front burner. Former Senator Patrick Kennedy has written a book about his family and the “secret” struggle of alcoholism, addiction and the effort it takes to hide behind big smiles and hurting hearts. All families either have or know someone who is struggling through the mental health programs in this country which are “funded” in a miserly fashion. In Jackson County there are a so few beds at the hospital psychiatric ward that people are turned away. Mr. Kennedy has bravely come forward to expose the stigma associated with mental illness and why it as important as cancer or heart disease. Mental health problems fester, they affect our society, they don’t go away and we all suffer mass murder because of it. (Here is a link to Mr. Kennedy’s website where you can learn more about his work: www.patrickjkennedy.net.)
3) No guns of any caliber for anyone under the age of 21. We know the recent killer Chris Harper Mercer was age 26. When did he first own a gun? If it had been unlawful for him to have one or go to a shooting range until age 21 perhaps he might have found a better path. According to a recent CNN poll, 27 mass shootings have happened since 1949. Out of a 66-year period, 14 (half) of the mass shootings occurred within the 10 years. What does that tell you about violence piped into our homes via TV? A third of these crimes (eight) were committed by young men in their 20s. Maybe these young men would have led different lives if they had not been exposed to guns at an early age.
Back to looking at violence in ourselves — how many of the young murders were treated with love, compassion and kindness? I’m sure their parents tried their best, but did schools educate them and was therapeutic intervention offered? Did the health system care for their psyche and mind as much as their bodies?
We won’t be able to banish guns and violence from our society until we banish the anger within. We need to bring our guilt to the light of love and be willing to open our minds to “hear” answers from all segments of our society to solve the problems, join hands and together choose peace and have faith that we will figure this out.
Sally McKirgan facilitates the Tidings Inner Peace column. See her blog at www.innerpeaceforyou.me.