Am I responsible for the recent shootings in Arizona?
This might seem like a question that is way out there, but I need to ask. As one of countless people who have a great desire to see more love and light shine in the hearts of the people that share the world with us, I have to ask myself this question so I can figure out what I can do to change the world.
The first great challenge here is knowing I have no control over the actions or choices of any other living creature on this planet. I cannot change anyone’s mind nor can I make anyone take any action or force a person to adopt any ideal. Nor would it be prudent for me to do so, as that would imply that my ideas, thoughts, and values are right over all others, which could not be further from the truth.
So I have to ask myself if this action that was taken, this choice that was made by the individual that pulled the trigger does not fit into the vision of the world I wish to live in, how am I contributing to the creation of the world I currently live in? What choices and actions am I taking that help to create a world where this kind of choice can be possible?
After all, I can’t control or change anyone but myself, right? So what do I need to change in myself to possibly influence this world, in hopes of living in a world with less atrocity?
In a world where violence is considered abhorrent, do I choose entertainment in movies and television that strip violence down to a component of fantasy, where we can excuse it because “it’s not real”?
If someone embraces values that are in complete contrast with mine, do I condemn them as misguided, unintelligent, or just plain wrong?
Do I laugh at another’s expense or speak critically of another person, whether or not they are present?
Do I state that I “could’ve killed so-and-so” for doing something that upset me, but it’s acceptable as “just a figure of speech” in light of the fact that I could never actually follow through with such an act?
Do I hold the conviction that the world would be a much better place if everyone’s values were in alignment with mine and that any and all opposing values simply “went away”?
The act committed by the individual that fired the gun were acts born of the same genetic material we all share, a seed shaped through the aggregated social DNA or our environment and planted in our collective consciousness. This seed could in no way germinate if the ground it was planted in was not fertile. This was an act of violence in an attempt to put an end to the actions based on the opposing values of the gunman. We fertilize the soil with each acceptance of violence in make-believe form we consume through our choice in entertainment. We give the ground rich nutrients for such an act when we create a chasm between ourselves and those whose values are in contrast to our own, leaving little room for acceptance.
For we ourselves may not have pulled the trigger, we may not have broken the levy that holds back acts of violence, but with each tiny decision that bears even the slightest resemblance to this exaggerated expression of hatred, we add to the tumult, as every flood is comprised of each drop of rain that makes up the deluge that raises the river that bursts the dam. Each move we make, each act we take, lets the world know that that path is okay to follow, no matter how safe or hazardous the path may be. We cannot claim to not endorse violence and hatred if we conduct ourselves in ways that express the seemingly “harmless” versions of these expressions.
So I may not have pulled the trigger, but any trace of intolerance I exhibit paints a dotted line to the atrocities that appear in our society. For the fire of hatred that burns through our way of life cannot survive without being provided ample air to sustain it, oxygenated by our choices that contribute to the atmosphere. Our seemingly innocent endorsements by way of polarizing perspectives contribute another molecule for the ember to taste, to explode into the flames of moral chaos. I cannot point a finger without three pointing right back at me.
I’m left with a simple choice: to love without exception or to accept the pathology of self-loathing that gives birth to such incidents as the one that has recently joined our way of living. The choice seems simple, but most of the time it is not. But it does get easier when we see the distorted reflection of ourselves in those unfortunate events, not in an act to avoid what we ourselves may become, but to undo what we might already be.