Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When the rubber meets the road

Imagining -- and -- taking responsibility after election madness and planning for the end of the world.

The essence of New Horizons’ Possible Human, PossibleSociety Study is all about that theme; visioning the best possible of you and me, co-creating the best possible society within which for us to all live and grow.

So here “it” is. And, here we are and I am.
To my way of thinking and perceiving, if it’s not the end of the world, we must be on the threshold of the brave new world. To my mind, signs are everywhere. 

So what have we got?

Children, barely older than babies, lying dead in Newtown, movie-goers massacred in Aurora, Colorado, media reports of violence and murder, devastation of every imaginable sort in all corners of the world. 

And here we sit, the U.S. with a second-term, elected president who definitely does not walk his talk with consistency; a pretender as a unifier, usurping the Nobel Peace Prize for “extraordinary… efforts, internationally, who cannot even come close to that vision in his own county.
But about you, and I -- and the roles and responsibilities we take or do not take, particularly, in our neighborhoods and local communities?

New Horizons’ Possible Human, Possible Society Study has been revealing In this aspect; the difference that is made in living out our ideals and how we really treat one another, when push comes to shove. There is much to say on this point. However, for now I wish to just recount an incident that brought the negligence of one another home to me a few years back; thinking globally, acting locally.

The year was 2001, early in the year. The school shootings at Columbine were still fresh in the collective consciousness of our citizenry while “911” was  a relatively far off tragedy to come.
A local radio talk show host had, somehow, gotten word of my work in non-violence community development -- and -- had invited me to comment on a more recent school shooting that was having our country astir, especially the local county just outside of Frederick, Maryland where New Horizons is often involved.

This tragedy had been enacted at a San Diego middle school. What made it of particular interest to this local radio show was that the adolescent boy who had exacted the lives of a handful of his fellow students was a young man had grown up in the local county, before having recently moved to California. Further recollection reminds me that there was some kind of marital dissolution that may have prompted the move.
Nonetheless, the adolescent soon-to-be perpetrator of violence and death, had been well-known and, apparently, well regarded, here, locally, apparently, relatively stable youth before the move.

So where had this shocking potential for violence been hiding, only later to erupt, leaving young students lying in blood? The conclusion, as I recall, was that bullying of this student in his new school had been behind the tragedy.
Many of the gory details have faded in my mind, blurred, no doubt, by the countless school murders since. Still there is one point I will never forget. The radio show host asked me, point blank, what I thought this young man should have done differently.

I was stunned by the question. But not too much so as to not have a response.

What should he have done differently?” I responded, taken aback by the question.
“What should a youth, in crisis and under the extreme stress of adjustment, have done differently?
How about what we should have done differently? He was, nearby to Frederick, or far away, a child of our’s. He belonged to us all. So the real question is “What should we, the adults, have done differently?”

Now, of course, recent tragedies by mass murderers have spotlighted extreme mental health issues. And, so it seems, there is a limit to what might have been noticed to avoid these tragedies.  All we can do is learn from this for the next time.

Still, when I am reminded of this tragedy of youthful violence and death, I sometimes put it, in my own mind, next to more subtly violent situations I have known. Such as what occurred at our last year’s Abkhazian Dinner where and when mature adults, ostensibly strong advocates of peace, consciously chose to ignore the racial, verbal violence directed at one of our guests by another. To this day, the ignorers,  are still asking, without apparent comprehension or remorse –
"How is it possible that 6.9 billion people can all claim to want the same thing (peace, security, opportunity, prosperity, happiness, and love) and be singularly unable to get it"? 
Neale Donald Walsch

The answer is obvious to me, if not to you.
There is no room in our lives to busy ourselves, endlessly, as people do when caught in the online world, politics and other media forms, with what others are doing (i.e. the president, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, etc. etc.), unless and until we pay more attention to the fact that “it takes a village” to raise healthy children into effective citizens in our country and keep our adults functioning well.
If attention is not placed there, close up, first and foremost, why wonder how our country may be failing us when we are the country, each and every one of us.

So ask yourself, when was the last time you looked the other way?
This is what we’ve got!

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