We’re living in challenging times, no doubt about it. There’s so much violence in the news that it’s almost becoming hazardous to one’s health.
If we’re not witnessing an international terrorist attack on television, then it’s a domestic mass shooting or a gang-related hit at a local mall.
Last week was particularly horrific as we mourned the loss of two black men in police-related shootings in Baton Rouge, La., and Falcon Heights, Minn., and then five Dallas police officers killed by a black gunman. It was shocking to the senses, and piercing to the soul.
I, for one, have been very reflective over the past few days, thinking about all the senseless violence. The hate that lingers in the hearts of some people is almost mind-boggling, but it’s a reality we can’t ignore.
So what should be our response to all the madness? I believe it’s about getting back to some of the lessons we learned as schoolchildren. For those who may have forgotten, here’s a quick refresher:
Follow the Golden Rule: Growing up, we heard it all the time. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” But it’s a principle that some of us have lost along the way. These days it’s all about self-preservation. Everyone looking out for themselves, many times at the expense of others. I wonder what would happen if we actually put the Golden Rule into practice. Would we have so much pain in the world today?
Control Your Tongue: “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words may never harm you.” That was a good schoolyard rhyme, but very misleading. The words that we speak can inflict pain and can influence others for good or evil. These days, we have so much mudslinging, name-calling and heated rhetoric in the political arena, as well as in traditional and social media, that I believe we’re now suffering the consequences. Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” It seems we’re now destined to a place we don’t want to go.
Respect Your Elders: There was a time when the elderly were valued in our society. We appreciated the wisdom they acquired over the years, and we went to them for counsel. Somewhere along the way we lost that sense of respect. And today we have many young people with no sense of history, no sense of community, no sense of legacy. They’re wandering aimlessly through life because of a breach between the generations. We need to get back to inter-generational dialogue so we can help them find their way.
Do Your Part: Growing up, our mothers taught us that “many hands make light work.” That also applies to building a better community. If we want to curb the violence in Columbus and elsewhere, it will take parents raising their children to value themselves and others, schools producing productive citizens, and police and community working together through mutual respect.
It’s a tall order, but we can do it, if we remember those childhood lessons.