Standing in the Way of Control.

18 12 2012

The recent shooting in Connecticut has created a mega-storm in regards to the debate on gun control.

This is not about gun control.

Instead of skirting the main issue we need to confront it head on.

Okay, so a mentally disturbed person used a gun to murder a bunch of innocent people. The equation for a solution that most people see here is to either 1. Take Away The Gun or 2. Give People More Guns

The gun in the equation is not the problem.

I remember when I was younger there was a slogan that became incredibly popular at least in my area of small-town Kansas, which was “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” Though this is a true statement, the opposite side of the gun control debate would argue that less people would die if it was less easy to pull the trigger. Both of these concepts are right… in a way.

Again. Not the point.

What we’re failing to recognize here are the mechanism of power that keep this kind of horror repeating itself.

In other words, power—the lack of power and the quest for power—keep us from being free, keep us from feeling safe, keep us from feeling love at its fullest.

Think of a two-year-old who throws tantrums. Why is the kid throwing a fit? Because she or he is coming into consciousness and lacks the ability to communicate proper needs and desires. The child’s powerlessness is realized. How does a parent cease the tantrum? The parent does not throw a tantrum back because this is futile, the parent eases the tantrum with love. Care, affection, understanding.

I refuse to back down on my argument that the world needs more love.

We must re-evaluate what is important.

Money, things, being “better” than our neighbor—these concepts, rooted in capitalism which thrives on individualism, are literally killing us and keeping the rest of us in a constant state of anxiety and fear.

Keeping a gun at our hip will only fuel this more. We will become a trigger-happy society that shoots firsts and asks questions later. We will retreat and become more isolated. We will continue to have no power and even less love in our lives.

Regardless of how cheesy it sounds, we have to open our hearts.

This is vague, but basically it comes down to recognizing other people’s existence on the planet. A smile, a “hello, how are you?,” a creation and development of community connectedness, a willingness to give with no-strings attached. Communication—an open dialogue voicing our needs, wants, desires, concerns, where we actually listen to each other and act accordingly.

In the documentary Happy, sociologists discovered that small acts of kindness literally changed people’s brain chemistry and allowed more endorphins to flow through the body creating a more constant state of happiness. Kindness towards others should be valued more than pleasing the self.

So, yeah, we can sit around and debate all we want to about guns and mental health and health care and democracy but until we get to the root of the issue our society is not going to transform into something better—and neither will we—as individuals.

bell hooks in All About Love (a book I think everyone should read) discusses the concept that love is about helping another transform themselves into the best person they can be—it’s time we do that collectively, not just in pairs, but as a society. We should look out for one another because when we do it makes our own lives more fulfilling and the lives of others more about love, which is what we all need any way.

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Our Country Internally Bleeding.

14 12 2012

On Practicing Love.

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We are isolated. Scared. Alone. Unsure exactly how to feel love and even more unsure how to give it. The more we move away from each other in fear the worse our society will become.

We cannot just shed a tear for the atrocities that happen across our country on a far too often basis. We must act.

We must start practicing love.

And with that practice we have to define what it means, we must become open to talking about it; we can no longer afford to shy away from it because our fears of rejection and our obsession with power is stronger than our need to feel accepted and appreciated on this planet.

When I was in high school and the Columbine shootings happened I, of course was completely freaked, totally saddened by the entire incident, but it gave me pause to take a look around my classroom, to notice the people who had been unnoticeable before–outcasts if you will–and try to be more inclusive. I at least would have conversation with them even if we had very little in common. Perhaps that’s where we have become out of touch. We’re afraid if we do or say the wrong thing we may literally be murdered. We could even be murdered just because we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But we culturally have to dig deeper at the root of these almost-routine societal-suicides. When an individual cuts herself she does so to feel pain, maybe to the point of not being able to feel pain any more–but what is the pain? Where does it come from? What can stop it? When an individual takes his pain out on unsuspecting groups and then himself he does it out of pain. An injustice felt. An internal pain turned externally violent onto the world around him.

We all have a responsiblity. A responsibility to heal our own pains and to help those we love heal theirs.

And we have to get back to love.

Not in a vague random abstract sense, but in a literal actual sense; we have to get back to care, compassion, honesty, trust, loyalty, commitment–to our selves, to our friends, to our family. Without it we will continue to live sheltered unfulfilling anxiety-ridden lives.

It’s obviously not this simple. It’s going to take time and effort on all of our parts.

Perhaps December 21st will be the end of the world, but we can hope it’s an end of a world full of oppression and violence and the beginning of a world full of understanding, acceptance, and love.