Last week, while the country was still reeling from the tragedies in San Bernardino and Paris and the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado, a friend who lives in Ohio posted a story on social media about a man in Cleveland who was strolling around urban areas with a big rifle slung over his back. Ohio has “open carry” laws that make it perfectly legal to do just what that man was doing.
My friend asked for comments on the story. I thought about what I would think and feel if I looked out the window of my house or business and saw some guy with a rifle, and my take on the situation was this: Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean that you SHOULD do it.
This comment, of course, enraged someone who felt constitutionally entitled to create mass hysteria in an urban setting.
And that got me to thinking. It’s time for all of us to take a deep breath and settle down. We need to start thinking about how we can be part of the solution to the problem of needless violence instead of feeding the energy that creates these tragedies.
Because if you want to be honest, the problem is not contained to one set of political or religious beliefs. It’s coming at us from all sides so that the majority of people, who just want to live their lives in peace, don’t have anywhere to turn.
My favorite speech by Robert F. Kennedy talks of the energy created by thousands upon thousands of small good deeds and acts of kindness. It speaks of the immense force that is created when that energy comes together in the world.
The same is true of the energy of anger, and discord, of hate and intolerance. The energy may come from social media or political speeches or your own dinner table, but it is created and seeks to find similar energy with which to form a more powerful force. It touches those who would pick up guns or knives or bombs or even rhetoric that wounds, and the cycle is infinite.
It is up to each one of us to decide whether we are going to add to the turmoil of the world or attempt to create peace. Every time we interact with another creature, we have the opportunity to make that choice, over and over and over again. Is what we are about to say or do going to add something positive, or create another rift?
There will always be people who will choose the negative, choose to enrage rather than inspire, choose to wound rather than heal, choose to hide their fear behind anger. I’m asking each of you to look at yourself and make a conscious choice to at least not add to the negative energy of the world. Maybe later we can all try a little harder to contribute a bit of positive energy each day.
In the spirit of this season, truly sacred to so many, I wish you the most peaceful holiday and new year.