- Politics and Social Issues
Change Starts Within: Channel Your Anger and Stop the Hate
"Do you tickle your enemy with a feather while he cuts you with a sword? No, you stab them in the heart with your sword. I work with the police as part of my job and will have to say that the majority are out of control or are there because they have a mental disorder and need to control everyone around them with hyper-aggression."
Those are the foolish words someone commented to me when I posted a news link to the Dallas police shootings. I said that I had no words for the horror that was unfolding there on my local news station, so this person took it upon himself to supply them for me. Only, those are remarks that make me almost physically sick. These violent acts are not a matter of self-defense. Everywhere I turn, it seems someone is casting blame upon someone else. Each side wants to support their cause with hateful things to say about the other side. Angry protests erupt in the streets, angry gunmen walk into wherever they feel like committing a mass murder, angry ex-spouses kill to rid themselves of the other, and the list goes on.
All of the name calling and mudslinging politicians do is senseless. It is just as foolish for everyday citizens to throw insults around at those who think differently than they do. How can we criticize one group for doing something and then do the exact same thing to them? To me, it is not that different from people criticizing the police for senseless deaths and then shooting them needlessly in return. Of course, people want this reign of violence to end, but in the meantime, what is all the anger and aggression accomplishing? Anger may be a natural human emotion, but it only accomplishes one thing: division. Okay, all right - if dividing is the goal. However, if curbing the amount of meaningless violence happening in the world around us is the common goal, anger is not the answer.
An Angry Man Opens His Mouth and Shuts His Eyes - Cato the Elder
My question to you is why is change so politicized? Moreover, because it is politicized, does that mean it has to be all or nothing? Is there truly such a thing as a bipartisan government? If not, maybe there should be. Because, if you take the time to consider all of the opinions carefully, both sides tend to have valid points. Gun control, for instance, does not have to be as complicated as people make it out to be. Of course, I live in a state where guns are common, especially now that it is an open carry state. I am not afraid of them. I have seen them used to kill those Texas sized snakes that terrify me. Trust me; you do not want snakes in your yard that big. I still shiver at the thought of it. I know people raised around guns that are taught the sanctity of life as they learn how to use them. That said, I do not think that longer wait periods and psych evaluations before buying a gun is a bad idea. After all, those people capable of murderous intent scare me at least as much as big-ass snakes do, probably much more. No doubt about it, this world can be a scary place.
Have you ever awakened to the sound of a neighbor's door being kicked in by some man with obvious violent intent, yelling and screaming as he relentlessly pounds and kicks? I have. Too bad the security guard is not in yet, and the front desk does not seem to care that the man is destroying their property as I speak. Have you ever had strangers knocking on your door at odd hours of the night looking for the previous tenant? I have. It did not take long to figure out that the person they were looking for was not good news. Have you ever tried not to think about what would happen if someone pulled out a gun and a stray bullet found its way through your wall or window? I have. Have you ever watched helplessly as people who smoke weed take advantage of a man with children who cannot afford to pay for their motel room just so that they can spend his food stamps when they give him a ride to the store? I have. You find that the only thing you can say to these three children crowded with your three children in a small hotel room is not to let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do something good with your life. You hope and pray that if they take anything away from that horrific experience, they remember your words.
When you experience just a taste of the reality some of the less privileged demographics face, you understand better than you ever wanted to. If you ask me, when people speak of white privilege, most of what they actually mean is social and economic class privilege. That is something anger and hatred toward other races is not going to solve. In fact, I think there is a reason most change happens when it is not a political agenda. It happens when people who have been there, who understand step up to the plate to help make a difference. That cannot happen when people are too busy clinging to the anger to open up their eyes wide enough to see that it is not hopeless, but it is not without genuine caring either. See the right. See the potential. Be positive in a negative situation.
Amazon Book Summary
Once Carl Upchurch was an elementary school dropout fighting for survival on the streets of South Philadelphia, a gang member wedded to a life of violence, a bank robber facing a future in federal penitentiaries. Now he is a respected community organizer and one of the most compelling and visionary leaders of the civil rights movement. Catapulted into the national spotlight following his organization of a summit that brought together the country's most notorious gangs. Carl Upchurch has found himself in direct conflict with other African American civil right leaders. This is his scathing critique of t he established civil rights movement and his bold manifesto for solving the critical problems facing today's urban American. And this is his own unforgettable story-reality of urban crime gang warfare and racial injustice from one who knows firsthand what it's like to be Convicted in the Womb.
Nothing Can Bring You Peace But Yourself - Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to have professors who worked with poor school districts. Charter schools in Dallas where children from broken homes and poverty attended. The students were full of depression, anger, and aggression. However, these teachers were full of understanding, compassion, and encouragement. They taught the students in the charter school, armed with the knowledge that the self-image of these children needed to be nurtured for them to break the cycle. The teachers also wanted future educators to understand the realities of poverty so that they could make a difference in the lives of future students facing it.
One of those professors came from poverty herself. She knew firsthand what it means to live in poverty. She taught us that it is easy to make assumptions about what we would do in that situation or about what they should do. If given a gift of cash, for instance, many would say they would use it to catch up on a bill or save it. What many fail to remember is that it is more complicated than that. Why? Because the quality of life also matters. Yes, it would make sense to pay next month's bills so that you are a month ahead and do not have to struggle as hard the following month, but these people do not see a way out anytime soon. All they see is that after that month, they will be right back where they started. Might as well spend that cash on something that provides a little bit of pleasure because it so rarely happens they have any extra money to spend on something fun. Did you catch that? Quality of life matters. Part of that quality of life is nurturing self-worth. It was also this professor who required us to read a book with a message that not only struck me as I was reading it but sticks with me to this day. To change something, you have to understand it first just as it is.
The book, entitled Convicted in the Womb, is the autobiography of Carl Upchurch. With several prison stints, this man was a hard core felon, always returning to the same neighborhoods and the same crowds that kept dragging him back into a life of violence, drugs, and gangs. During one of those prison stays, he began having a spiritual awakening. When he was released, he went to stay with some Quakers that made him believe in his value as a person. They taught him that if he wanted change, he had to change himself. Instead of going back to the old life he embarked on a new one, becoming an advocate for peace. His efforts gained national attention when in 1993 he organized a gang summit that brought together leaders from some of the nation's most notorious gangs. The purpose of the summit was not to fight, but mediation.
Upchurch also became a prominent civil rights activist who worked to strengthen the quality of education young children, particularly from underprivileged neighborhoods received. He was not shy about pointing out that a significant part of the problem in those communities is the message sent to children. They are raised in survival mode, believing that the anger, the violence, the street smarts is what is keeping them alive. The nurturing environment that says things like "you can," "you will," "you are worthy," and "you can be anything you want" is lacking. They struggle, they give up, and they drop out of school believing that they are not capable or deserving of achieving things that the rest of society does.
There is something terribly wrong with that picture, yet if you stop to think about it, there is also so much truth in it. The images these young people receive of themselves not only from the rest of society in general but their own culture as well is self-destructive. It is just another form of hate, and the blame is placed elsewhere, such as on police departments. People need first to respect themselves before they can respect others around them. People have to appreciate their good qualities before they can appreciate the differences between others around them. They have to believe they can change themselves before they think others will change. Moreover, they have to accept their own responsibility before they can stop blaming an entire group of people for the misdeeds of a few individuals within another group.
Become Part of the Solution
"Become a part of the solution. Serve your communities. Don’t be a part of the problem. We’re hiring. We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about."
- Dallas Police Chief David Brown
How Can You Bring About Change?
Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.
Learn the wisdom of compromise for it is better to bend than to break.
Believe the best, rather than the worst, for people have a way of
living up, or down to your own opinion of them.
This quote is an excerpt from wedding advice given in 1869 by Jane Wells. Obviously, we are not talking marriage here. However, read those words. Those lines above ring true across all walks of life and between most human interaction, do they not?
It is complicated, yet simple. While you may not quickly change the big picture, you can start by being the change you want to see. If anger divides, love unifies. You have the power within yourself to make the world a little bit better. To do this, do not let anger win or hatred will take over. Continue to build your lasting friendships with whomever you want. However, try not to choose according to previous biases, but rather choose your friends according to common interests and learn to appreciate the differences. Get involved in your communities in constructive ways that bring about positive changes. Lead by example. Most of all, do not turn the differences in perspective into a bad thing. They can be just as enriching as the things people have in common. Compromise is not a bad thing when it brings people to the common ground. Bend a little if you have to - before you break.