February 2018
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Archive for February, 2018

Massacre

The Florida school massacre prompted me to blog about our country’s recent history of mass killings.  I changed my mind and chose another topic. Then I saw a Facebook post that pulled me back to massacre.

Massacre is defined as …’the indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people’; deliberately and violently killing (a large number of people)’. Sadly, massacre is part of human history.  Hitler used gas ovens and automatic weapons in his crazed genocidal persecution of Jewish peoples.

“It is impossible to consider living without ideals.  However, when ideas lead to ideology, that’s a very dangerous thing.  Ideology then leads to creating the image of an enemy, and it leads to the murder and massacre that we’ve seen since the beginning of time.”  ~Micheal Haneke

I researched massacres on American soil.  The earliest I found was the infamous Boston Massacre in March 1770; 5 people died. The famous Valentine Day massacre at the height of Prohibition, Chicago 1929; 7 people died.

My search led me to Guadalupe Canyon massacre, AZ in 1881, cowboys were ambushed in their sleep; 5 people died.

…to the Golden Dragon massacre in San Francisco September of 1977, a gang dispute; 5 people died.

…to the ethnic massacres of Blacks in the south, Chinese in the west, Striking Coal miners in Colorado, American Indians across the country, including the Bloody Island massacre, Clear Lake CA, May 1850.

As I compared the past to the recent history beginning in San Ysidro CA, July 1984; 22 dead, 19 wounded.  Killeen TX 1991; 24 dead, 27 wounded.  Blacksburg VA, April 2007; 33 dead, 17 wounded. Newtown CT, December 2012; 28 dead, 20 wounded.  Sutherland TX, November 2017; 26 dead, 20 wounded. Orlando FL, June 2016; 49 dead, 58 wounded. Las Vegas NV, October 2017; 58 dead, 515 wounded…515!  I noted that past massacres were perpetrated by groups.

The British, a coal mine company acting in concert with the state’s National Guard, White settlers against Native Peoples, Whites against Blacks, fewer, but they happened too, Native People and Blacks against Whites, and gang wars.

Then the shift.  Recent massacres, with the exception of San Diego, were all perpetrated by a single person, acting alone.  Yet the death toll and number of wounded per incident has escalated considerably.

I do believe mental health is a serious part of the issue and needs to be addressed.  We all grapple with trying to find a reason for wanton massacre;  made more difficult by the current paradox of the Las Vegas shooter.

However, assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons modified by blunt stocks used by these killers, raises the the dead and wounded count significantly.  If killers were armed with single shot weapons or a knife, how many fewer lives would be lost?  Not to mention the untold suffering of grieving families, and recovering wounded; all whose lives have been forever altered.

Clearly something needs to be done!  Incidentally, my cursory search revealed that 68% of shooters are white males, fewer are Black men and even fewer are Asian.  There are NO Latinos on that list.  I feel a bigger threat to my life and that of my family coming from inside US borders than from the south.

“After every massacre in a school, Americans grasp at quick cures. ‘Let’s install metal detectors and give guns to teachers’.  Let’s crack down on troublemakers, weeding out kids who fit the profile of a gunman.  Let’s buy bulletproof vests for the students to scurry behind, or train kids to throw erasers or cans of soup at an attacker.”  ~Bill Dedman

The Facebook post I referenced in the beginning of this blog, was a picture of a handgun beside a rock of equal size.  The caption went something like, ‘Cain slew Abel with a rock, this is not about guns.’  I don’t disagree.  Cain was the first killer mentioned in the Bible.

However, my question is this:  If the massacre shooters had been armed only with a rock, how many people could they have killed or wounded in less than 10-15 minutes?

It is a tough time for all of us, as individuals and as a nation.  These are indeed times that try men’s souls and demand a strong faith.

Tolerance

Tolerance has several definitions, courtesy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“Capacity to endure pain or hardship.”

“Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”

“The act of allowing something.”

As John F. Kennedy is quoted, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs.  Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.”  ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”  ~Rene Dubos

In these instances, tolerance is considered a noble practice as we work toward greater unity and acceptance of one another.

What about when tolerance means ‘enduring pain or hardship’?  Too many among us are quietly tolerating all manner of injustice and abuse. At what point does this kind of tolerance become unacceptable?  ‘Zero tolerance’ has become a familiar phrase with regard to drugs and alcohol in the workplace, child abuse and neglect, the many inappropriate behaviors that are coming into public awareness. Is there something in your life right now that you would like to change, instead of remaining tolerant?

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”  ~Thomas Mann

“Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”  ~Dalai Lama

“You must dare to disassociate yourself from those who would delay your journey… Leave, depart, if not physically, then mentally. Go your own way, quietly, undramatically, and venture toward Trueness at last.”  ~Vernon Howard

Pupose

At some point in our lives we all ask ourselves, ‘What is my purpose?’ and perhaps, ‘What is the purpose of living?’  We are born, we live, we age, we die.  ‘Why?’

Indeed, at one level this is a collective question, certainly, a spiritual question directly related to our humanity and our evolving belief systems.

Surely, it is pure joy to discover our purpose and live it to the fullest extent possible.  Such a seductive, inviting and seemingly simple pursuit.  Mostly, NOT.

I do know a blessed few who have known from an early age where their destiny was taking them.  Passionately committed to the journey, they love what they do, their lives have purpose. But, as I have observed, for most of us it is a process of self-awareness and self-discovery.  Helen Keller comes to mind.  With faith and the trust of her beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan, she found and embraced her purpose.

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” ~Albert Schweitzer

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” ~Bo Bennett

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life from our souls.” ~Pablo Picasso

“The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful.  If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness.  But if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions.”  Keisang Gyatso

I invite you to pursue your purpose with faith, passion and commitment.

Blessings!

Word of the Week:

MASSACRE

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