There Is a Higher Path Than Violence

I originally intended to write on a somewhat different topic, but the recent triple tragedies in Florida, especially the mass shooting, demand a response. When will people understand that violence solves nothing?? These outbreaks are not an issue of bad people, and not an issue of gun control, although fewer guns would make the violence more difficult. That is another issue, which begs the question of what is the deeper reason for the push to remove guns from people but not from police, reserves, and other authority, and why the current escalation of mass gun violence? This is an issue of our attitudes towards each other and our security within ourselves.

It is OK if everything and everyone are not the same. It is OK to be different from someone else. Someone else’s rightness does not make a person wrong, and one can rest secure in one’s own validity without wrong-making someone else. There is no same set of expression that is right or another that is wrong, with the exception that wrong making another and using violence to enforce and enhance that wrong making is in itself a serious, culture-destroying, humanity-destroying, earth-destroying mistake in the wrong direction for the survival, growth and well-being of life.

It is OK to disagree with another person, movement or policy, and it is OK to verbalize that disagreement strongly, hopefully with reason, but also with passion. Disagreement is just that, not name-calling, vilifying, wrong-making, attacking or engaging in contentious debate. It is nice when a disagreement is resolved, but resolution to end the disagreement is not necessary. People differ, and that can be accepted. People can differ, and still love each other.

The word “love” has so many aspects, or forms, that it is often misunderstood. I am referring here to the forms of love called respect, compassion, and the ability to wish the other well, even if one disagrees. Pretend, for example, that the Florida assassin, instead of shooting people, had taken the stage in the nightclub and spoken his disagreement that homosexuality should exist, how threatened that made him feel, and confessed the hatred his fear generated within him. That would certainly have made others uncomfortable, and would have caused those within earshot to think and perhaps question their own reactions and positions.

However, it would not have resulted in loss of life and escalated the hostility between those who disagree. As a result of the massacre, the polarities are intensified and expanded, and the potential for further violence – from both authorities and the disaffected – are aggrandized.

If someone is opposed to, for example, homosexuality or immigrants, it is OK to voice that opposition and be listened to, not vilified for the opposition. It is not necessary to get on the bandwagon, to be the same as everyone else. Sometimes there is truth within the opposition, truth which others have not thought of. Sometimes the opposition is backed by hurt or fear. Refusing to listen is not respect or compassion. Hear the opposition, recognize injustice where it exists, consider alternative solutions, acknowledge and react with compassion to fear and hurt, whichever “side” one is on. We are all part of the same Creation.

If we do not wish our mutual destruction, let us all start now to move away from violence to a more compassionate adjustment of our differences. For starters, that means to react to violence with compassion, even within grief, and to move consistently towards a higher orientation. Peace, Diane