When are we going to get it? Once again a horrific and deadly assault has occurred. And once again, there are suggestions that the shooter had been on the receiving end of bullying and discriminatory behavior. Now before anyone gets themselves all into a frenzy screaming, “That’s no excuse,” let me state emphatically, that I agree. Being picked on is not an excuse for murder. But what is clear in the majority of these instances, is the personal distress that became so overwhelming and distorted in the shooters mind, had at its roots in the unfeeling, mean-spirited and lack of compassion of others. When will our society finally get to a point of disagreeing with each other on our views and ideas but learn to leave out what is personal, i.e. our cultures, our weight, our gender, our color, our accents, our disabilities………..shall I go on? The fact that people think they can say anything and end their statements with, “I was only joking,” as an excuse for disrespect and inhumane behaviors is ignorant and as far from all religious teachings as is possible. Anyone who goes to their religious services and then steps out into the world with disrespect on their tongues is a hypocrite. Anyone who assaults (and yes – it is an assault) others with words of dismissiveness, disrespect, and vulgarity doesn’t deserve the right to sit in a religious institution. Those are the folks who should be excommunicated for not living the philosophy of kindness that is preached in all religious doctrine. Instead, people stand by while others tell jokes, or say off-hand remarks in the belief that just because they think no-one is within earshot, it’s not hurting anyone.
People do not know what everyone’s heritage is (or what might be their sensitivities) – therefore, you don’t know who you may be insulting. People who are the butt of this type of language (and actions) often don’t speak up for the inevitable retort of, “What’s the matter, you can’t take a joke?” Then the person becomes more ostracized because they are not willing to allow themselves to be the fodder for other’s amusement. A lose-lose situation for them. Our entertainment has become more and more tolerant of bad behavior and because we are in such an overloaded media world, this tolerance is broadcast regularly. The ignorant feel validated and the young learn it is a way of life.
Until our society starts to 1) become intolerant of ANYONE (relatives and loved ones included) being disrespectful, 2) speak up to the bullies and state clearly they will not be a party to injustice, and 3) put themselves in the shoes of those who are being disenfranchised – then we will be destined to continue to have these circumstances. As those of us in early childhood teach: 1 – Use your listening ears folks – don’t ignore the negatives; 2 – Words are not for hurting and hands are not for hitting; 3 – Respect EVERYONE – and 4) Don’t believe for a minute that people who are bullies are “just joking.” The bullies are venting their angers, too. Help them vent them more productively and to exorcise them!!
My condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones. They were ready to put themselves in harms way to protect our country and then – where they were supposed to be safe – were attacked by one of their own. Such a horror. Lives changed forever. And once again, our children are left to learn another lesson in hatred. I wonder who will be the next one to explode.