New Years Eve has come and gone, and many of us have made our resolutions. Some of us have already given up on a few. Some, we are fighting hard to accomplish.
When I stood beside Sheryl, counting down the seconds to the beginning of 2015, I made up my mind to be less critical, more loving, open to experiences, and ready to accept the changes the new year would offer. Along with many others, I hoped the arrival of a new year might bring some brighter times for humanity as a whole, less war, more peace and understanding, but the horrible things in the world rarely concern themselves with dates on a calendar or the expectations and wishes of people.
Wars and conflict continue, along with their accompanying rhetoric.
The recent atrocities in France have deeply affected me. I was stunned to silence for most of the day, as reports came in, along with the eye witness video of two men gunning down another man, executing him while he lay on the street. Luckily, we have not been tortured with video from inside of Charlie Hebdo.
We have (unfortunately) been inundated with pundits and thinkers from all sorts of ideological perspectives, readily offering us their insights as to why events took place, each one instantly discrediting the opinions and facts of the others. Page after page of articles telling us all what the attacks were “really about,” and how dare any of us think otherwise.
In the end, I’ve determined that I really don’t care. It’s all finger pointing at shadows, empty and hollow words that offer no real understanding. Blame the cartoonists for being insensitive to the beliefs of others. Blame the intolerance of extreme religious zealots who see only their own righteousness while condemning the heathens to violent deaths. Blame the Western World for creating these militants through never ending war and persecution, or blame the Muslim world for not doing enough to denounce and combat the violent elements of their religion. Blame whomever or whatever justifies and reinforces whatever point of view that speaks to you most. It’s all equally right and equally wrong, because there is no truth here, only excuses and mangled up layers of perception. We never really need valid reasons. People have been killing each other over these sorts of things long before any of the current organizations and oppressive apparatuses ever existed. We just get new names and labels for these things from time to time.
When I think about it, I come up with very few good reasons for killing another person. Revenge, spite, anger, outrage, God, nationalism, they don’t make the list.
Every human being experiences some sort of oppression in their lifetime. Some experience a great deal more. Not every one who is victimized or brutalized takes up a gun. What makes some become brutal killers, devoid of any compassion or understanding, while others choose love and forgiveness?
No choice exists in a void. Context matters. Indoctrination, propaganda- We are all subject to them on some level. What we find comfortable, what resonates, we accept. Sometimes that acceptance takes us down dangerous paths, but we should never ignore our own personal responsibility. We do not always have a say in what happens to us, but we always have a choice in how we respond, and in the end, the kind of people we want to be.
Less critical. More loving. More open to the change in the world. This is where I’m starting.