December 3, 2015
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“Upload a picture for this blog post,” my computer is commanding me. I can’t seem to find an appropriate picture; there is no visual for what I’m thinking. This issue is too complicated.

Wait a minute…. think I’ve got it…..

Off to my office I go, to take a picture of a crystal hanging from my front window. This beautiful crystal is a gift I received, while working at a mental health clinic last year. The crystal is multi-faceted, as is this post…. that’s a good place to start. 

I’ll preface the post by saying, I’m not a journalist- I’m a therapist and a poet/creative writer. Therefore, I am not here with a political agenda. I’m not going to talk about the plethora of issues concerning violence in America (the who, what, why), terrorism, gun control, etc. 

This post is simply about how we choose to respond to the world around us, on a very basic level. Too often, we are responding to what’s transpiring around us, with hate.

This has to stop.

Opening up my social media account this morning, I expected to see some news about yesterday’s horrific shooting in California. I anticipated seeing an outpouring of empathy for the victims, sadness, prayer, and a focus on healing. I didn’t expect to find myself reading countless vile comments (about certain groups of people) in relationship to the developing news. Reading these comments, caused me to feel disgusted, angry, and sad.  

I should have ignored the comments, but I read on. And now, I should ignore the comments, and reserve my comments, on the comments. But that’s never going to happen. I feel too strongly, about what I saw this morning, and about the subject of hate, in general.

 So let’s chat, with kindness and compassion. 

Can we stop, and think outside the box?

Can we openly share, without attacking or judging?

It seems that we don’t “talk” anymore; people turn to anger when dealing with conflict (inward anger and outward anger). Globally, and in our daily lives, we need to drop anger, and give love. 

We need to stop hate.

In regard to how we respond to violence in the United States:

Let’s stop the negativity.
Let’s stop the defensiveness.
Let’s stop being hateful, please?

Yesterday’s tragic shooting is tragic, regardless of the “why.” When we immediately jump to making derogatory statements about groups of people, based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, etc., we are being ignorant. Failing to understand our responses to others, and to the world around us, perpetuates continued tension, divide, and hate.

Perhaps yesterday’s shooting was “terrorist related.” Talking about the issue of terrorism is appropriate. 

But making hateful statements, about groups of people (based on ethnicity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation etc.), is not okay.

Furthermore, what if this event wasn’t terrorist related? The continued loss of life, and mass shootings in our society is a problem, regardless.

Today, I simply ask people to check themselves, before making such hateful remarks about specific groups of people.

I check myself, too. Admittedly, when I heard one of the shooters was female, I thought to myself; “A woman shooter?”

Yes, I thought that. And yes, I’m a feminist.
So why did I think that? And why do I share this? 

Because I’m not perfect (none of us are). However, learning from our imperfections is how we grow- it’s how we become better humans. 

I lend you my experience, to exemplify how prejudice works, and how insidious it can be:

Although I’m a feminist, I’ve been bred into a world filled with stereotypes, norms, etc. Therefore, although I’m aware of these issues, I occasionally have faulty thinking (hold prejudice, bias), too.

For I logically understand, women are capable of committing heinous crimes- gender has nothing to do with it. However, the idea of a woman being a “shooter” is outside “my norm.” And that’s “my stuff.”

It’s my responsibility to check myself, and these knee jerk reactions, thoughts, and feelings.

Our perception of others, is a product of our socioeconomic status, social learning, environment, and family dynamics (just to name a few). We all have gaps in our thinking. We all have faulty beliefs, prejudices, and shortsightedness.

Understanding privilege and prejudice is our responsibility.

In order to create change, we must begin seeing the error of our ways. We need to own up to the fact that prejudice and privilege exists.

Challenging our own hard-wired thoughts, beliefs, fears, etc. keeps us growing as humans, and facilitates compassion, understanding, and peace. This is a fundamental task that we all need to master, if we truly want to stop hate.

In this regard, responding to yesterdays violence, by making hateful comments about certain groups of people, is inappropriate. Responding with hate towards others, only perpetuates anger, rage, and violence. Responding to the world around us with hate, is extraordinarily counterproductive.

Responding to atrocities, by focusing on hate/prejudice, seemingly re-victimizes the victims.

We need to come together with love and compassion, in order to begin healing in our country. 

We need to respond to this act of violence (and all acts of violence) with love. Unity, compassion, and love, heals. 

My heart aches, for everyone impacted by yesterday’s senseless violence. My heart aches for all victims, everywhere. May peace and healing find you all.

Peace, love, and light,