America and violence. War on terror.
Words that seem to be closely associated together as we remember the events on 9/11 and come to grips with a possible military strike against another country. This time, Syria.
Acknowledge Fear and Anger
Every fiber of my being cries out NO! No to more war. No to the senseless violence. A moment of fear followed by anger rises up from within my own depths. A primordial mix of cellular memory from growing up in America with violence without justice. An instinctual need to feel safe and secure in the world. Anger that senseless acts of violence continue to harm the innocent. Combined with the knowledge and wisdom that violence is not the answer to solving problems. In the midst of frustration, I also recognize that many of these issues are entirely out of my direct control.
Learning the Difference Between What We Can and Cannot Control
Many things are outside of my direct influence and control, including what the government chooses to do in the world. What I do have control over is my own voice and a choice to not remain silent. I can raise my voice if only in a post to declare that I am opposed to America’s habit of using violence as a first response in the world. Consider that we have one of the largest crime rates in the world, along with the MILLIONS of children who are abused and raped every single year here. It seems to be a blatant double standard that America is so quick to act when it comes to injustice going on in other parts of the world yet fails to consider the causes of such a high rate of injustice right here at home.
An Assertive Response
Am I being insensitive to the injustice being faced by innocent Syrians in their own country? No. I feel deeply for anyone having to endure the heartless cruelty of violence and injustice no matter where they are in the world. I am not saying to ignore injustice. I am saying no to America meeting injustice with more of their own. If America embarks on another military strike, we are not doing anything to improve the situation. We will only continue to model the very violence and terror that we ignorantly believe we are somehow ‘quelling’ in what continues to be an endless history of violence of our own.
“Do as I say and not what I do.”
‘Do as I say and not what I do’ mentality doesn’t work. America’s seed of anger and violence is too strong. Perhaps its time for America to acknowledge its own anger and quest for vengeance and step aside on this one. Allow some of the other nations to use their collective thinking, hearts, and wisdom to help come up with a more diplomatic and nonviolent way to resolve the situation. If violence is our primary answer and response to most issues in the world, perhaps we need to consider that we aren’t the best role model to help improve things at this time. Perhaps its time to face the fact that America has an anger and violence problem of its own to deal with. Something that many of us who’ve already endured countless acts of violence here have known for a long time. For far too long.
Notice the Connections and Links of Violence
Last night I read a post written by Ian Lawton of Soul Seeds, Breaking the Cycle of Violence.
This is how we perpetuate the cycle of violence. Remember that Timothy McVeigh, who committed the worst act of domestic terror in U.S. history, learned to kill in the first Gulf war. In his own words, the war turned him into an “animal.” He came back from war, mentally disturbed, and continued to kill. Then he himself was killed. There’s the cycle- the government that trained him to kill, kills him, to show the rest of us that it is wrong to kill.
If America is living it’s message, what message does it continue to deliver to the world?
Having a belief that we are a nation of light, love, and hope in the world is great….if it’s true. When actions consistently reveal a far different message to the world, it’s time to pay attention to the gap between delusions of grandeur and reality. This is something the rest of the world already knows. It is also something many of us who live here know only too well.
America is in denial.
For better or for worse, America is my homeland. Yet we cannot remain silent if we know we are heading down the wrong path. I say this as an American woman who once served in the military. I say this as a woman who cannot make sense of my countries need to police the rest of the world with never-ending acts of war and violence. Yet continues to ignore the injustice that occurs on our own soil.
- Does anyone ever take a moment to wonder WHY so many of our children are being abused and raped each year?
- Does anyone ever stop long enough to consider WHY we have so much violence within our own borders?
- Does the government not understand the link between the violence in war and the violence at home?
‘Violence breeds violence.’
As I’ve shared in past posts, in the same way that shame based systems breed shame based people. Violent systems breed more violence. We’ve been watering the anger and violent seeds for far too long. We’ve forgotten (or didn’t learn in the first place) how to water the good seeds of love, mercy, compassion, and kindness in one another. We’ve been doing this in ignorance, not understanding our connection to one another. Our connection to each other here in our own country and our connection to every other nation and people on the planet. How we treat people here has a long term impact on the health of our country. And impacts how we treat other nations in the world. America does not spare its anger and violence against its own CHILDREN and does not spare it against the rest of the world either.
A Message of Love
Out of love, I ask America to wake up. To look at what we’ve been creating with eyes wide open. So that we may tend to our own wounds, heal the land, and become an example of good instead of destruction in the world.
America is my country. When she fails, we all fail. When she succeeds, we all succeed. We need to love our country enough to speak up. Speak the truth. Remove the blinders from our eyes with some fresh understanding that if America is in the path of an iceberg, we ALL hit it. If the ship goes down, we ALL go down with it. Our lives are NOT entirely our own here. The sooner people understand this, the better.
Can a violent country bring peace to other violent countries? No. We can’t.
America, if you want to begin doing the right thing then know this.
Justice begins AT HOME.
There is a better way and it is going to require more then giving lip service to ideological cliches that have the ‘ring’ of wisdom on the surface but contain no true power to evoke change in the hearts and minds of the people. Somehow, we need to get beyond the superficial ‘wisdom’ of this age and move to actively exploring and teaching new ways to handle anger, conflict, and hostility in ourselves and in the world. Yet as Ian shared in his post on Breaking the Cycle of Violence, it’s going to take a great deal of courage to cultivate genuine love to overcome our own violent nature in this land.
This is the first of a series of post I will be writing on dealing with anger in the face of injustice. In my next couple of posts, we will take a closer look at the nature of anger itself, and explore a few perspectives from various spiritual traditions in the world. Each perspective is a vital piece to the puzzle that will help give us a greater picture of practical wisdom in learning to address and manage anger.
Explore Your Own Anger
We all experience anger. I do. You do. We all do. Anger is not ‘wrong’. It’s a normal, natural, and sometimes even necessary emotion that we can learn to accept and make friends with instead of treating it as if it’s the enemy. Denial and suppression merely lead to resistance. The energy itself doesn’t go away. So it’s important that we learn to deal with it more effectively so it doesn’t hurt ourselves and others.
For now, I invite you to begin exploring the nature of anger in your own life. Start thinking about what you’ve already learned about anger.
- How is it currently handled in your personal life?
- In your family?
- In your workplace?
- Does anger scare you?
- Do you easily display anger or do you primarily try to stuff it, hide it, and suppress it?
- Does your anger ever sneak up on you like a thief in the night and catch you off guard?
- Do other people fear your anger? If so, how does that make you feel?
- Do you want to learn how to effectively manage your anger?
Additional Related Resources:
Are You Cashing Your Reality Checks? by Scott Mabry
Leadership and Shame by Dan Oestreich
On Emotional Freedom by Dan Oestreich
The Woman Who Went To Work To Heal by Dan Oestreich
As I Do Not As I Say – Short film by Soul Biographies
Behind Every Old General Short film by Soul Biographies
In the Life of Another – Short film by Soul Biographies
The Alchemy of Anger by Parker J. Palmer