In the wake of these recent individual violent acts in the US, I keep wondering about what it is that makes these people do what they do. What is making them so angry? And it’s not just a US phenomenon. There are examples everywhere.
And it’s not just the individual. Our frame of reference is a world that is constantly bickering and competing. One where countries are always at war with each other. Where individual acts of terrorism seem like the norm, and where the decisions and actions of the few dictate the parameters in which the vast majority of us live our lives.
I don’t have the answers but I do know that it is a symptom of profound anger, unhappiness, and disconnectedness. It is a symptom of a very sick and fearful society. One that has lost its way.
Why do we continue to choose hurt over healing? Why do we not opt for creation, cooperation, and peace over destruction and aggression? These are not new questions, but we keep doing and allowing the same things over and over, expecting a different result (Einstein’s definition of insanity).
How often will it have to happen before we look honestly at the root causes, and decide collectively that we don’t want to live this way? Once a month? Once a week?
Or will it be when enough of us have been more closely impacted by these acts of violence? Or will it be when we have all simply wiped each other out?
What a blunt and primitive species we are. And we know better.
Surely we have all seen enough–lived enough–to know that violence does not work. We have thousands of years of history that proves it. And we must know by now that it is getting us absolutely nowhere.
Aren’t we all getting just a little tired of this?
I just came across this timely piece by Richard Rohr. Substitute your own beliefs or words, but the overiding message is clear and universal.
“If the self doesn’t find some way to connect radically with Being, it will live in anxiety and insecurity. The false self is inherently insecure. It’s intrinsically fragile, grasping for significance. That’s precisely because it is insignificant! So it grabs at things like badges and uniforms and titles and hats and flags (and I would add: GUNS) to give itself importance and power. People talk about dying for the flag of their country. They don’t realize that the Bible would definitely call that idolatry. What were you before you were an American? Will you be an American in heaven? Most of us don’t know how to answer those questions without a spiritual journey and an inner prayer life.
In prayer you will discover who you were before you were male, before you were female, before you were black, before you were white, before you were straight, before you were gay, before you were Lutheran, Mormon, or Amish.
Have you ever lived there? At that naked place, you will have very little to defend, fight about, compete with, overcome, hate, or fear. You are then living in the Reign of God, or what Buddha calls the Great Compassion.
Violence is unneeded and undesired.”