My 22 year-old son directed me to www.youtube.com this evening and asked me to view the video from Florida State today showing a student who repeatedly asked what my son said were “politically incorrect” questions of John Kerry as he attempted to close his presentation to students. I watched in horror as the student was quickly tackled to the ground by the police, who tasered him.
Tasers are not exactly safe alternative to guns. Moreover, they ought not be used any more liberally and without sufficient cause. I understand some reports say that as many as 200 people have died as a result of receiving these electric shocks, but maybe the authorities didn't know that.
My son said to me, “Your generation wouldn’t have stood for that. No one did anything. Now the APA is reporting the student as a known prankster." What's the intent of that kind of headline? I'm not sure, but I do know that if I hadn't known better, I might allow my attention to shift to an irrelevant and completely anecdotal claim.
Hysteria and Blame are Dangerous Combinations
When I was 20 years old, in May, 1970, I also watched in horror as the media played again and again the fatal shootings of Kent State students engaging in a peaceful anti-Vietnam war protest. I joined thousands of students protesting that incident and the war.
Hysteria and blame are dangerous combinations. History shows us again and again that rhetoric, justification, and rushing to act on impulse in fact incite riot, even murder.
How Our Inherent Capacity to See and Respond to Ourselves and Each Other as Human Beings is Compromised
These responses also deny our inherent capacity to see and respond to ourselves and each other as human beings. John Kerry reportedly said that he has never had an experience like this in all the years he has spoken in public.
It has been said we will not achieve peace until we find peace within. It has been said that until we can treat each other as we most wish to be treated, we will continue to abuse and violate each other.
The Response that Transcends
I remember singing with the thousands that filled the Capital Hill Mall so long ago in May, 1970, “When will we ever learn?” It is a profound spiritual directive that flies in the face of countless millennia of endless murders fueled by streams of hysteria, oceans of blame, floods of justification, and an infinite sea of mindless impulse.
I watched this student repeatedly ask the police this question as he begged to be taken out of handcuffs, “Why are you doing this to me?” If we could see all others as “me” and “me” as all others, we could return in relief to our own spiritual centers with a true sense of belonging equally to the realm of humanity.
Our Innate Sense of Integrity
“Why?” is not a question that should be answered with blame, justification, rhetoric or hysteria. It is, I think, a thoughtful question meant to be answered in a thoughtful way, and in a way that respects our innate sense of integrity.
When my son was much younger we rented a cottage for a week in the summer at Chautauqua Lake. I went for a hike one beautiful day, walking up and down rolling hills, enjoying the warm sunshine sparkling across fields of corn.
His Spiritual Transformation
I was amazed to see a gift shop spread across both sides of the road called the “Purple Cow”, owned by a man who chatted there briefly with me, sharing he had written all of the spiritual definitions of key words displayed on parchment paper throughout the store. He said he had undergone a spiritual transformation following his terrible experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War.
I’m moved to share with you the parchment I bought that day, which hangs in my dining room. I take it out at times like these, and share it occasionally in my groups and classes, and with clients.
Here it is:
You stand at the threshold of meaningful life when you realize the key to life is not love but respect. For love is what you are, the motivating force in every act of life driving you to and through every moment of existence.
Respect is the source of fulfillment, opening doors forever closed to less sentient beings. ©1993 Purple Cow
A New Legacy
Do we dare to embrace – BE – in a center of respect as our commitment to transform ourselves, evolve and support the world, and respectfully gift our children with this new legacy?
Any day now my daughter is set to give birth to my first grandchild – a new child in an old, troubled, costly, goofy, perilous world. Probably a little over 20 years ago that student entered the world, a most fragile infant with wide unseeing eyes.
We must see with vision that centers in our hearts, in our reknit spirits, if we dare hope to find a way to “put us all together again”. So BE us, with ourselves – with each other.
image originally produced on The National Ledger, The National Ledger, LLC. http://www.nationalledger.com/ledgerdc/article_272616148.shtml