Last Friday the peace and joy of our Christmas season was shattered by a shooter in Newtown, Connecticut. Much has been said and written about this. But we have to face the fact that we are living in a violent world, and that there are is much work to be done. Mass shootings draw twenty-four/seven coverage, with scenes shown over and over again. But every day, in cities all across the USA, people lose their lives to senseless acts of violence. Children are exposed to violence in video games and movies. Recently we learnt of illegal bonuses being paid to NFL players for disabling opponents. It seems we celebrate violence, so long as it does not affect us.
Mental health, or rather non-health, is not talked about. We happily discuss our young niece who is struggling with type I diabetes, yet say nothing of the one who is bipolar. We don’t share our struggles with a child with behavioral issues, or who suffers from one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, as if somehow it is our fault. Depression is something to shake off, not seek treatment for. So we have a long way to go in healing the society.
To return to Newtown: even as the coverage left people around the world tearful, there was plenty to be celebrated, from the acts of bravery shown that day, to the stories of the characters who were taken so rudely. The father of one little girl was courageous enough to speak of his inspiring daughter. But more than that, he called for care and compassion to be shown to the family of the shooter. How selfless was that? Sometimes it is easy to be convenient Christians, loving those who do good, forgiving our nearest and dearest. It is far more difficult to love our enemies, to do good to those who harm you or wish you evil. Yet this should be the lesson of last week. That for this world to be a better place, we need to be better than others. We have to overcome evil with random acts of kindness. We have to turn swords into ploughshares, and study war no more.
A gun-soaked society cannot expect to live in peace, undisturbed by reports of sudden death. A government who trains young men and women in the art of war should not be surprised when it is used upon itself. A society which does not demand healthcare for both the physically and mentally ill, should be prepared for irrational acts to be perpetrated upon it. We need to practice the messages of Christmas, those of peace and love and compassion to all of our neighbors, not just those we pick and choose.
I heard of an innovative program in New Jersey, where the guns and bullets which are bought back are being converted into jewelry. It is called The Caliber Collection (http://calibercollection.com/) and seems to be the modern day equivalent of turning swords into ploughshares. We have the ability and capability to keep finding better ways to express ourselves than anger, better causes for our talents than creating ways to kill our fellowman.
This Christmas season may you all enjoy a holiday filled with peace and love. Let us all reflect on how we can contribute to the growth of our society in acts of love, compassion, tolerance and acceptance of each other, so that we can live in a peaceful world.
One Love, family! Peace and Love! Have a great Friday as we celebrate the winter Solstice (aka, the end of the world!). Have a wonderful weekend and a glorious Christmas season.