We seem to be going through a period of human evolution where the solution of choice to any problem or misunderstanding is to kill the person on the other end of the equation. This is true whether we are talking about having differing religious beliefs, holding varying political views, being fired from a job, getting cut off on the highway, or even having bad dreams.
Yes, believe it or not, a young teenager was recently reported to have shot his step sister ten times in the head while she napped on the sofa because he had a dream that they had been fighting and he was angry at her. Crazy? Maybe so. But after we say “tsk, tsk” a few times and waggle our finger at the naughty boy, we must back off long enough to ask ourselves whom we have given him to look up to as role models of what you do when there is a conflict, real or perceived? I mean, who actually makes the nightly headlines?
Is it the deeply religious fanatic who swears undying fealty to God, straps explosives around his waist and blows himself to kingdom come, along with a bevy of assorted police officers, crippled old men, young mothers shopping for groceries, and innocent kids walking home from school? Or the political partisan walking into a hotel lobby and blowing away a bunch of foreign tourists on holiday?
Maybe he fancies the gang member who offs a couple of guys he never met for wearing the wrong color shirt in the wrong part of town, or the drive-by shooter, or the road-rage shooter, or the how-dare-you-fire-me shooter, or the you’re-gay-and-I’m-not shooter?
Perhaps he doesn’t relate to individuals at all, preferring to choose his role models from our dedicated peace officers who get called to a domestic disturbance and shoot to kill when shooting to disable would be sufficient? Or he may look for direction to our military who send drone planes to blow up buildings believed to be holding evil ones even though collateral damage is going to be inevitable. (i.e. old men, young mothers, and innocent kids, see above.)
Where are you, oh peaceful role models? Where are you Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon? Oh, sorry, I forgot.
Yet, fortunately some still live, The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh come to mind. But they are not role models for the masses. Their words don’t cause sirens to blare, or people to run in horror. Their actions don’t disrupt traffic or make the nightly news, unless, of course, someone is protesting them and firing tear gas and using clubs and causing sirens to blare and people to run in horror. Is it any wonder our youth have no one to reach out to and look up to who can keep them from being sucked in to the quicksand of violence and the easy response.
We can have our “Take Back Our City” rallies, and “Violence Must End” protests. We can speak from the pulpits, the street corners, and the blog sites. But it is our actions that must change, not merely our words. We cannot “Fight for Peace” as one misguided sign recently read. We must “Be Peace”. Until we are, the bereaved families, flag draped coffins, and roadside memorials will continue to grow. We, each one of us, must recognize that life is one and that the killing of another is like lopping off a limb. Lop off enough and soon there will be nothing left worth saving.
Yes, it takes courage to fight against what you believe to be wrong. But it takes even more courage to stand up for what you believe to be right. Such is the classic Indian story of a Swami who was meditating in the forest when the king rode by and was taken by the old man’s aura of serenity and peace.
“Come back to the palace with me”, said the king. “You will become my teacher and I will make you very rich”.
“No”, answered the Swami. “I prefer to stay here”.
“What!?”, roared the king, “How dare you disobey me. Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know I can kill you just like that?” And he snapped his fingers.
“Don’t you know I can let you kill me just like that?” said the Swami, snapping his fingers in return.
That is true courage… and true peace.
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For more of Anton Grosz, please visit Games of Conscousness