Shooting each other.
Cell phone videos.
In 5th grade I first became aware of suicide bombers. I was 10 and starting to pay a little attention when my dad watched the news. I heard about Operation Iraqi Freedom as this far distant concept where we would help these other people, people who were plagued by violence and a nasty power hungry leader. We would do what it took to be helpers. That’s what I understood. But those people over there…I had not concept of who they were.
In high school I shook my head as things continued in that region. Kids I knew had parents working in the military. Kids I knew would go into the military. We’d look at each other and just sigh, and say, maybe callously, maybe ignorantly, but say, “We should just build a wall around that area and let them blow themselves up.” I remember hearing that over and over. We couldn’t figure out how a society got so warped that they would be ok living where it would be expected that you might get blown up if you went to the market. It was a cold statement, but it matched what we saw as the social climate there.
We continued on. We welcomed Starbucks and all the privilege that came as more and more money came our way. America got softer and softer, learning how to wear black to appear slim, boasting of our accomplishments like we were still marathon runners when we were quickly becoming couch potatoes. We lived, ate, drank, breathed the concept that we are worth it, worth anything and everything that we could ever want. We became entitled. And we couldn’t imagine that life involves struggle, and so we began to hate those who lived life in constant struggle.
We made our first inward turn against ourselves.
Who were those in our midst who were not worth it? If I am worth it, it must be because I’m better than….better than a poor person. Welfare became the agenda. Poor lazy people. They’re the enemy. Not, not all, just the addicts. No not them, it’s not their fault. People who think addicts should get help and not just love them in spite of their addiction. They’re the enemy. No, no, it’s the system manipulators.
It’s not me. I’m worth it.
With all of our fingers pointing in opposite directions, nobody would do that trick that I learned the same year I learned about Operation Iraqi Freedom. Point your finger at someone else, and then look. The rest of your fingers are pointing back at yourself. What can you do to change? No, no. Not me. I am not the problem. Someone else is.
Then there was a time in college where we sat watching True Life on MTV and would question how the camera people could stand there and video tape people ruining their lives and not step in to intervene. Now we all stand on the side lines, phones in hand and take part in that baffling behavior.
Through the years we have swung our arms wildly about, flailing them with no regard to whose eye we might poke in the process, one after the next after the next. Until we are at this point.
We are at the point where we are on the brink of turning into what was unfathomable to my generation not a decade and a half ago.
A culture where it is become a possibility that you will be attacked by your own people in a place that should be safe. After the possibility sits for a short time, it will become an part of our practice. We will alter our actions on the defensive, because most of us don’t know how to put an end to the madness. And then it will be our reality, our daily existence.
We think that we have a responsibility to hold up our phones and document the ills of the world, but if everyone on Earth is trying to be Peter Parker, then who will be Spiderman?!?!? Put down your phone!
We think it is our business to be analysts and commentators on social media, yet we have no qualifications, no education in the areas we run our mouths about and none of us bother to listen to anyone else’s point of view anyway. We just unfollow those we disagree with and scream into the darkness. STOP IT! Light a match, y’all.
We think we are so important. We think we are worth it. Ten years ago we were safe. We had things to whine about, but we were safe. We convinced ourselves so much of our own worth that we blinded ourselves to the poor the hungry and the needy all over the world and thought only of our own slight discomforts until we picked the scabs into gaping wounds and turned them into infectious sores. We did that, took ourselves from relative health to needing triage. We are racing into position to have young teenagers in France, or Australia, or wherever watch news reports of the USA and wonder why they don’t just build a wall around us. No one needs to come and attack us, because we are attacking ourselves!!!!! Stop it!
We need no enemy oversea to destroy us. We are doing our best to implode. We are careening towards being a people plagued by violence led by a nasty power hungry leader….and I am not making a statement in support of any candidate right now.
Put down the phone. Don’t click post on that meme that REALLY proves your point. Go live a real life. Go love a black person. Go love a white person. Go love a person and don’t notice their color or anything else about them except that they were made with value and should be treated as such. Go meet your neighbors. Go bake a cake for someone else. Go rebuild a community. Go serve food to first responders. Go out in the world and MATTER to someone, even if it’s just one person. That other person is worth it.
Now is the time.
Now is the time to stop the violence in response to violence in response to violence.
Because united we stand.
Because divided we fall.
History should be yelling that to us, screaming it at us til its throat bleeds.
Stop it. STOP IT!!! Stop it.