I am outraged by the shooting at Planned Parenthood, but maybe not for the "usual" reason. Yes, it could highlight flaws in our gun control laws whereby a person who is described as "adrift and alienated" somehow owns an AK-47. Yes, it is probably as CNN states a "crime against women," although I would argue that it was also a crime against men since a male police officer was shot and killed.
But this is what is making me the most upset-- according to CNN, it appears that the suspected shooter was upset about the Planned Parenthood "video scandal," speaking of "baby parts" after the attack. This man was set off by the irresponsible creation of fear and anger for no better reason than to advance one person or group's specific ideology. It happens all of the time on both sides of the aisle and this is a ridiculous reason for people to die.
I assume that in the coming days, we will begin to see the shooting highlighted extensively by both parties and their candidates. Both sides and their spin teams will be looking at this heartbreaking event and devising ways to use it to highlight their own agendas. They will do this by creating fear and hatred in the hearts of Americans. If you are left-wing, you might create fear and hatred for the NRA and those who paradoxically fight for "Right-to-Life" by using guns to kill others. If you are right-wing, you could create hatred for the practice of abortion, which, you may argue, "brought this upon itself" and caused a Christian police officer to die. And the people that will really suffer will be all of us "real people," encouraged to live in fear and hatred. Because creating division is the machine that drives our political system.
I would like to suggest that you have a choice on whether you live with fear and hatred. Here are three ways you could choose to react instead. And believe me, you ALWAYS have a choice of how you want to react.
- You could choose to look at both sides of every issue and honestly try to understand the other side. I am vocally pro-choice, but I understand why people don't like abortion. I would like to see better control of our guns, but I still believe in the second amendment. Try to find common ground. Assume that the people on the other side of the issue are people just like you. If you have a reason for believing what you do, they probably have a reason as well for their differing belief. Stating "they are just stupid" is a cop out. You have a better brain than that. Exercise it. You are reading this blog on a computer. You have the easy ability to look into every issue that stirs your soul and actively try to find, read and consider the opposing view. Plus it will make you more interesting at dinner parties.
- You can choose to do something constructive. It is really hard to do nothing when the adrenaline that fear and hatred creates is coursing through your body. So find something constructive to do. If you think the problem is inadequate care for the mentally ill, give time or resources to organizations that are trying to help that cause. If you are anti-abortion, look at adopting or fostering an unwanted child or give time or resources to organizations that do that. If you want to help create better gun control, find a way to constructively address that agenda. Most importantly, VOTE! We have the right to vote in the U.S. that not every country has. Use it.
- You can choose to take the political rhetoric with a grain of salt. In every news story you hear, ask yourself "What is the author's belief? What is their personal agenda? How is it coloring their reporting?" Use critical thinking. In the U.S., there are very few stories without a personal agenda or bias. You can use your giant brain to find the bias. Here is my personal bias - see if you can find it in this story: I believe peace is better than fighting. I believe other people are just as smart as me. I like people and inherently believe they are doing their best. I don't think everyone has the same experience as me and I hesitate to legislate only for myself. Think of it like "Where's Waldo?" Find the Waldo in every story.
I would close with a personal anecdote. The other day, I was at the grocery store and had just finished unloading my groceries. I turned to take the cart to the cart area and a man asked if he could take my cart for me as he was taking his anyway. There was some polite back and forth as I offered to take his cart for him instead, but in the end, I thanked him for his help. As he returned to his car, I noticed it was sporting a Trump 2016 bumper sticker.
I could have chosen to believe he was only nice to me because I was white. I could have chosen to believe that if he knew my political preference he never would have helped me. I could have chosen to believe that because I am a woman, he thought I was too weak to return a cart on my own. Any of those things might be true. But the reality I chose to believe is that this man saw someone he could help and offered to help, just like I try to do whenever I can. I choose to believe that most people are the same as me where it counts. If you have anger over the recent Planned Parenthood shooting for whatever reason, you can choose to not give in to that anger and instead to find common ground and kind solutions. Because an attitude of mutual respect is the only place where everyone wins.