Reflections on #Charleston

I had planned to blog about my recent adventures and shenanigans last week…you know I have something moderately important to say every 9-14 months.

But then Charleston happened. And I was inspired to write, both to share my thoughts and to have a record of the “tasks” to which I plan to hold myself. Everything about this week’s massacre of lives is tragic. Tragic has almost become a buzz word in my life time. It has described 100s if not 1000s of incidents in 30 years.

These reflections aren’t about politics (admittedly I’m a Democrat and rather liberal though I have my own issues and reservations about the term liberal), gun violence (I have always been staunchly anti-weapon unless you’re law enforcement), or mental health (having lived through depression, I readily advocate for mental health services)…these reflections go beyond these 3 indicators. Because in all fairness, Charleston wasn’t about any of them on their own. They were all factors along with a huge dose of indoctrinated racism. Charleston is about people. It’s about 9 fewer people on this earth. Any death is tragic, whether it’s from measles or a car accident or capital punishment. Every death is sad. And most deaths are avoidable. Perhaps all would be if we really sat down and thought about it.

I’m sad. I’m sad this happened again. I am sad that people are using a power tool (social media) to blame others or make it about something that’s it not (or something that only tells part of the story). I’m sad because I wonder if these people will take a moment to reflect and change their ways, big or small, to help contribute to the solution.

So many solid articles out there in the face of this week’s murders. And then some not so solid ones. I wish I could remind everybody that God (by whichever name you may call Him) gave us all minds to think…and that’s it not necessary to always groupthink. And that groupthink can be both positively powerful and epically failing.

I watched a great piece by Jon Stewart. And he was angry. He was angry that it was another shooting, that it was clearly a race issue, that he has no faith in our government to be able to say never again.

I read a blog on the young conservatives site about a post on the murderer’s Facebook page…by a surviving victim of the shooting. He wasn’t angry. He was sad and forgiving and loving. He provided advice and comfort. To a murderer. The only person who was mad after reading it was ME. Not because of what he wrote but because I knew it would take a lot more in my heart to ever be able to pen something so compassionate and to be sincere. I’m mad because I can’t forgive this man yet but this guy can. This guy is beyond his years in maturity, intelligence, compassion. So I reflect and realize I need to be more compassionate myself. Not ‘just’ about Charleston, but in life. I need to learn to forgive and to help others.

I hate to admit this, but incidents like this also help me reflect on how I sometimes let minutia get me down. I dwell on lame work things or am overly annoyed when my boyfriend makes me run (for no damn reason, I might add), or am impatient with my mother. I need to stop and remind myself that these are little things. That I need to get in my circle and fully accept that we can’t change everything. We can’t change everybody (and we shouldn’t want to). But we can change our reactions.

So what else can I do to feel like I am contributing to the solution rather than just complaining from the sidelines?

I can learn the issues in more depth and share this knowledge with others (in a not so preachy way). I can vote.

I can question my own biases. And when I’m not sure if I’ve made a biased statement, I can ask a trusted friend or family member for an opinion. And then I can endeavor to avoid making that same faux pas.

I can forgive others and myself.

I can question the status quo and not feel guilty for doing so. I recognize this doesn’t mean a comment war on Facebook. I can engage in thoughtful in-person conversation. I can admit when I don’t know the answer, and I can concede when I actually agree with somebody whose views don’t usually match my own.

I can avoid using any sort of phrasing that makes it seem like I accept people different than I am. What do you care if I accept you? Be you. Unless you’re purposely being a bad person (note: being gay, transgender, black do not equate to being a bad person), you don’t need my acceptance. Oh, and I won’t tell you what my God says about you. Because my God(s) are pillars of compassion, love, and humanity. The rest of yours prolly are, too.

I won’t judge my friends who have guns. I wish they didn’t. But I won’t judge them. I will reflect on why they might feel the need to have them. If it’s for protection, then I will wonder what we can do to make people feel safer in their homes. So guns don’t have to be a solution. But I will judge less.

And I will share these thoughts (score for signing up for a blog 4 yrs ago), and I will encourage others to share their own reflections.

I won’t find excuses for murderers, but I also won’t dwell on the why’s as much as I will on how’s…as in how can we avoid this again (and again).

I will continue to smile, to laugh, to live my life. Because now all of us need that. And because now their are 9 fewer smiles, 9 fewer laughs, and 9 fewer believers.


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