“Watchman tell us of the night,/What the signs of promise are?”
I awoke this morning to hear of still another mass murder, this time in California. Understandably we are bewildered. How did we get to this place in time and what can we do to quell the violence? Communication is an important part of being human. Necessary to this process is self respect and respect for others.
The mid-term elections has renewed a spirit of optimism. Beto O’Rourk, Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have challenged the current leadership, which has relied on fear and division to manipulate the public. They have assured us that hope and inclusiveness can overcome fear and that we can become stronger by coming together. They are ready to fight for affordable healthcare including sustaining Roe. v. Wade, civil rights (justice for “all”!), gun control, education, protecting the environment, voter suppression and funding Social Security and Medicare.
If we hope to maintain our freedom and a democratic form of government we must be willing to assess our current situation honestly, searching for the truth and compiling facts. We can’t expect to make progress in solving our problems without a solid foundation.
Education is essential in informing and preparing our youth to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Not only do they learn about the world around them, but they embark on an inner journey of self discovery. We need to invest in pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school education. Students should be taught the process involved in governing and discuss current events. AmeriCorps should undergo a major expansion. Students upon graduating from high school should be encouraged to join Americorps for a year or two. This experience would foster being part of a team, facilitate learning new skills, broaden their knowledge of ethnic, racial, religious and economic diversity and further their understanding of the roll government and public service. In return for their service they would accrue credits toward college or vocational training.
Contributing to the emotional intensity of the present is the internet which provides a powerful tool to promote both good and evil. All we can do is increase our awareness to the barrage of information we are subjected to and disregard what is toxic. Violence is often emphasized in movies and videos, “Fear” is frequently used in advertising and in the “news” to gain and hold our attention. We also see mental illness as a factor in crime. Murders are often committed by people who are isolated from society.
While there are forces in our lives we can’t control, there are choices we can make. It amazes me that with pressing a button on my TV remote I can bring a symphony orchestra into my living room or listen to authors reviewing their books on C-SPAN. We are happy when we are part of a creative process. We can sing in a choir, dance, paint pictures, sew, cook, read, walk in the woods and visit with friends. As long as there is a choice, choose “Joy”!