I have to be honest. Writing this blog is a challenge. It cuts at the heart of who I am, because I want us all to heal. I feel the knife in the side of this country. I feel the blade twisting and I see the hand that grabs the knife. I see the reason we bleed.
What happened in Arizona last week was an American tragedy. I can’t pin it on a political side. The man who bares the weight of this tragedy is and will always be Jared Loughner. He pulled the trigger that killed 6 people and wounded 12 others. He took it upon himself to murder. No one is responsible. It was just him.
He is a sick person. There is no reasonable understanding for what he did. There is no way to sanely get into his head and understand his reasons for inflicting so much harm and suffering on others.
However, I have to ask, does this mean we ignore the knife in our side? Do we ignore our own illness? We are a sick society. We are chronically cynical and acutely hostile. We blame those we perceive are blaming us. We are reluctant to heal. We refuse to take any good out of the words spoken by someone we have decided is our enemy. And we rally behind and support those who shares our dislikes and divides. We’re polarized as a country. As a people we are not one, and even in the face of tradegy those who divide us don’t stop. But how do they do it? It’s simple. They use their words.
We are the words we speak and we are responsible for the out come of those words. We carry the weight of what we say –and why we say it. While I was pumping gas yesterday, a bumper sticker on a minivan in front of me caught my eye. It read, “Politically Incorrect and proud of it.” I continued to read the rest of the stickers scattered all over the back. They consisted of a couple of anti Obama stickers, one about socialism, and another about lazy unemployed people, along with a few other proud to judge and hate bumper stickers. But what stood out the most was the Jesus fish symbol being surrounded by all these stickers. I looked over at the woman pumping her gas and I calculated her age to be somewhere in her 50’s. I wondered why? Why do we have to be so hostile against others? Why are you proud to be politically incorrect? And more over, what would Jesus do? You clearly believe in Him, don’t you ask yourself this question? Honestly, I understand saying something or do something off the cuff, but to surround a symbol that means “Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the Savior,” with negative words I just don’t get. Maybe thats the irony of it all? Whatever her reasons, it made me sad to see this because words matter, even if we don’t speak them, but merely display the words, they impact. Those words that adorned her car didn’t unite people in the Word of Christ: Love our neighbor. They divide people in the negative words of man: Fear others and only do for yourself.
Right after the tragedy the political correspondence and pundits began their usual banter.
They ask, “Who’s to blame?”
“Well, you are blaming me.”
“No, I’m not. I’m saying what you did could be a cause.”
“I’m not responsible for what they do.”
“Well, is it a good idea to say what you say?”
“So you ARE blaming me you blood liberal?”
“What did you say?”
And so on…
All of this divisive talk and polarizing speech, has me thinking back to the last thing I wrote about in my book and I think it’s a perfect time to have you read a portion of it. Take it to heart and then ask yourself in the midst of tragedy should we be supporting those who spread more division even in the face of tragedy.
From my upcoming book titled “In the Beginning” on how we create with the word:
“Two famous historical figures who understood the power of the word from very different spectrums were Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King, Jr. These two men understood the power of the words they spoke, but used them for very different reasons. One man set his intent to inspire in the unity of love, while the other looked to incite in anger and hate. King gave hope and lifted the oppressed toward goodness. Hitler ignited an inferno of deliberate hate. Hitler said, “Hate is more lasting than dislike.” He persecuted the Jews under the guise of nationalism. He took the word Jew and made it an ugly nasty label. The Jew was evil. The Jew was a monster. The Jew was to blame for losing the Great War. The Jews are not human; they were animals. He labeled in judgment and this judgment was off the mind. He took the Word and destroyed the lives of millions. In his mind, he believed “the very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. saw the division surrounding him. He saw the oppression, the suffering, the violence and outrage. However, he didn’t fuel it or allow it to be a corrosive force in his life. Instead, he quelled it. King said, “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” He spoke of passive resistance, of loving your enemy. Even with all the hate coming at him, he saw the persecutor and named him in love. He also said, “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” He understood the power of the Word, and if given a positive outlet, the Word can heal our spirit, our nation, and even our world.
When I started researching these two men, I was fascinated by the striking difference and particular similarities in their words. The content is different, but both men harnessed the power of their words. Let’s take a look at segments from each of the men’s speeches to get a sense of the Word being used with thoughtful intent, whether to heal or divide. This segment is from Martin Luther King’s speech on loving your enemy:
“The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape. And agape is more than eros; agape is more than philia; agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.”
And this is from a speech Hitler gave on September 18, 1922:
“Internationalization today means only Judaization. We in Germany have come to this: that a sixty-million people sees its destiny to lie at the will of a few dozen Jewish bankers. This was possible only because our civilization had first been Judaized. The undermining of the German conception of personality by catchwords had begun long before. Ideas such as ‘Democracy,’ ‘Majority,’ ‘Conscience of the World,’ ‘World Solidarity,’ ‘World Peace,’ ‘Internationality of Art,’ etc., disintegrate our race-consciousness, breed cowardice, and so today we are bound to say that the simple Turk is more man than we are.”
Both of their speeches are powerful, but in very different ways. MLK’s speech is aimed at healing the hurt and divide. When he spoke, he allowed the spirit of the Word to flow through him. He understood the value of loving without judgment. He saw God’s Divinity in men. He gave love, not because he desired it in return, but because to give is to receive from the Holy Spirit. His word and God’s Word were aligned within the wisdom of love. His words inspired. Inspiration is essence of the creative breath of life.
Hitler’s speech was spoken to inflame Germans by picking at the wounds of WW1 and incite people toward hate. He gave them an outlet for their anger and through it provoked anti-Semitism. He spoke out in judgment of the Jewish people. He played on the dislikes of the era and the opinions people harbored toward the Jews. Opinions like, “Jew’s are evil bankers who take money,” or “the Jews are communist liberals and the cause of our downfall.” Hitler used the sentiment of the people against them. He wanted to be heard, so he spoke their language, and over time he got the German people to speak his language.
Having an unflattering opinion of someone isn’t necessarily harmful. Having a negative opinion of a group of people isn’t necessarily harmful either. Having a hateful opinion of a race of people is always harmful because it always ends with the dehumanizing of some or all of the people within that race. And it always starts with someone having an unflattering opinion of someone else and taking note of the differences. Over time, that opinion can spread, and before we know it, hate has us doing the unthinkable. This is why we should always be aware of our thoughts and the emotions surrounding those thoughts.
Our personal opinions come from the world and they exist in our minds. We don’t hold opinions in our hearts. From a worldly sense, our heart is where we feel the love that anchors our emotions in Spirit. This is why when we feel heartache; it sometime literally feels like our heart is being ripped out. Well, if you think of it, your emotions are rooted in love, and when our heart is broken the roots of our emotions are being ripped from the love. It’s equivalent to our hair being ripped from our head. Ouch, it’s going to hurt!
When we go through tough times, we might disconnect from the love, and the opinions of our minds grow stronger and our emotions root within the mind. Emotions always look to attach to something. If we disconnect from the love of our heart it will attach to the opinions of the mind. It’s okay to have opinions. We all have them and not all opinions are bad! When we are in touch with the love in our hearts, we may even work toward changing some of our negative opinions. The danger comes when we become our opinions and those opinions become how we identify ourselves and others within the world. When we get stuck in our opinions and they start to fester with resentment or bigotry—this is when we must escape our opinions for our own sake. We must step outside of ourselves in love and see past them. If we don’t see past our personal opinions then our opinions will hold our mind and our heart hostage for a lifetime.
We should strive to stay in the light of love when it comes to forming opinions. This doesn’t mean that we should not see the person for who they are, but rather see them for who they are through love. It is easier to see ourselves and others in truth when we are living in the light of love. It is harder when we are in living as our opinions in darkness. I like to think of it like this: if two people entered a dark room, one person living in light, the other living without light, both would view the room differently. The one living in light would see the need for light; however, the one living in darkness would be consumed by this perception of darkness. In relation to this concept, I have to ask, if Martin Luther King and Adolf Hitler were alive today, how would they perceive each other? If they had the chance to watch each other speak, how would they react to each other’s speech? By King’s philosophy, we could assume that he would see a man in need of light, a man lacking love. And conversely, knowing Hitler’s beliefs, if he listened to King, we could make the assumption that he wouldn’t hear words of love and he would see King’s race and fear his words. He would feel the power of truth and probably reject it. Of course, Hitler would never admit his fear because he lived to deceive. This would make him hate King all the more, and his opinions of King would grow to incite others.
Opinions define themselves around labels. One label I hear a lot is the preverbal “they” in reference to anyone within my opinions of “anyone.” They never really gets expressed beyond the word “they.” I’ve taken note to how many people express their dissatisfaction with “them” but never get specific as to who they are speaking of. I hear it all the time, lines like:
• They’re destroying our country.
• They’re taking our money.
• If they don’t like it, they can leave.
• They’re what’s wrong these days.
• They don’t take pride in anything.
• They’re un-American.
• They just sit around collecting checks.
• Everyone wants their rights now-a-days.
• They’re stealing our jobs.
When I hear people speak of “them” I feel the anger. I hear the frustration and dissatisfaction, and I wonder what are we creating out of them? We create a relation with all of life through the words we use. What relationship are we creating with “them” when “they” is such a broad spectrum of people? I come from a family who doesn’t hold back on opinions! Often times I think back to all the conversations with some people in my family that revolved around this mystical they who we don’t like, and wonder about all those people who fit into the label of them. How divided are we when they could easily be me? I fit into many categories within my family’s they; yet, I know I’m not the source of their dissatisfaction or unhappiness. I see the political divide. I realize politics is opinion and labels, but how did every social, economical, and spiritual difference become politics? It’s simple: the political opinion has created the modern day they for propaganda. It’s of the world, and they will perish with it. And when I say they, I mean the label that covers the name.
We were all named in love. Every one of us was given a name through the Word of God. Whether it was spoken aloud or never spoken at all, we all have names. We should honor those names and acknowledge the true power of our words. Our words matter. It is through our words that we can inspire a generation toward Spiritual evolution or incite a generation into division and chaos. In an era of media overload, where Facebook and Twitter rule our lives, it is more crucial now than ever that we begin to own the words we speak, to take responsibility for what we say, how we say it, why we say it, and more importantly, what we’re feeling even before we say it. We project what we think and feel together. If we don’t realize the power of our intent then we may be intending the very opposite of what we truly desire in our hearts. We must begin to evolve away from mindless words and become ever present and mindful of our words. But how? We must evolve with the Word of God.”
Now listen and hear the words of these two men after a national tragedy and ask yourself which words speak healing and which ones speak to keep the knife in our side? Don’t think about any political affiliation. Forget their names. For a moment separate yourself from your opinion and just listen to the words. Listen to what they speak, not what the say. Just listen and be honest as to what kind of talk is healthy for our society. Do we need the division? Will it bring us forward, or bring us down?
We are not republicans or democrats, we are Americans. And none of us Americans condone the acts of Jared Loughner, none of us. Let’s come together and say no more to the hate speech, no more to political divide. Take the knife out and heal. Remember, divided we fall. United we will rise again.
From the speech the President wrote himself:
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives — to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.
For full transcript click here
The one person responsible, not democrat, nor republican. What I see is a deranged individual who is insane. What we know of Jared is that nothing he said, written, or done has made any sense, so why would he now be so deliberate in his thoughts? Rush’s words only incite division. There is no logic to what he is saying. Just listen.
Speaking on his radio show Tuesday, Limbaugh said that Loughner was getting the exact attention that he wanted:
“What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail. He knows what’s going on, he knows that…the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he’s just a victim. He’s the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America…this guy clearly understands he’s getting all the attention and he understands he’s got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he’s not convicted of murder – but something lesser.”
Listen to Rush’s comments here: