By Dana Gornall
Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
~ John Mayer: Waiting on the World to Change
There are days when I can barely breathe after hearing about yet another tragedy.
I’ve stopped watching the news. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed, but I just can’t handle the constant barrage of negativity flashed in front of my eyes over and over again. Maybe I am too sensitive. Maybe I have a weakened heart or fragile mind.
What I know is that my soul aches when I see the pain inflicted repeatedly by people who are claiming they are acting out of goodness. Making decisions for others based on the intention of goodness has a sordid past.
In the town of Salem Village, Massachusetts in 1692, a couple of young girls claimed they were possessed by the devil and placed blame on some of the local women. They had told people that the women were practicing witchcraft on them. A couple of months later a woman by the name of Bridgett Bishop was convicted of being a witch and hanged.
Hysteria ensued. 154 people were prosecuted as witches, hundreds were imprisoned—including a four year old child—19 were executed (13 women and six men). Four people died while in prison.
Those that were tried, prosecuted, imprisoned and executed were done so to preserve society’s greater good.
This story is just one of many. We can recount hundreds, thousands and possibly millions of instances where mass violence has occurred in the name of goodness. Whether the violence has occurred on a large scale such as the Holocaust, in riots enacted in protest over injustices committed, or in the small acts performed on a daily basis such as child and domestic abuse, they occur.
And the repercussions stretch through generations.
Violence is embedded into our jokes, our music, our advertising, our fairytales, our history lessons, our artwork, our favorite television shows and in our daily vocabulary. It has taken roots so deep, most of us hardly blink an eye at any of it anymore. And when one chooses to stand up against it, we are chastised, poked fun of, called sensitive and told we need to lighten up.
It seems the lines have become blurred. So many intentions are laid out in the name of goodness and somewhere along the way they become twisted.
We may claim that violent actions are an appropriate response to violence as a means for acting on the behalf of the greater good. We spank our children for their misbehaving and disobedience—for their own good. We post graphic pictures of animal slaughter, torture and child abuse in order to raise awareness; in order to promote a message for the greater good.
We preach and propagate religion, forgiveness and non-judgement, forcing it into the faces of others for their own good. We site the Bible and other holy texts as reasons for violent acts, and then ask for pardon, claim we are human and that God is forgiving.
We shoot and execute our criminals to protect society. We slander and tear down the law enforcement that is put in place in order to protect us from the criminals. We become criminals to protect ourselves from law enforcement.
We murder doctors that kill unborn babies for the good of the unborn babies and kill unborn babies for the good of society.
When do we begin to plant the seeds of compassion into our culture? At what point do we take action against the mainstream?
I say we need a stronger voice.
We need a call to action. We need to rip off the thickened skin and open our eyes to what we are teaching those that are here to learn from us, our mistakes and our history.
Rudyard Kipling wrote about pack mentality and The Law of the Jungle in his second book of The Jungle Book Series. He stated:
When pack meets with pack in the jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken; it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a wolf of the pack ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel and the pack is diminished by war.
Many people interpret this to mean kill or be killed or survival of the fittest. But there is a deeper message behind this poem. Wolves in the jungle have a greater responsibility to not only to protect themselves but their pack—their community. When we act as a unit—a group—the potential for great change is without bounds.
On December 1, 1955 a 42 year old African-American woman by the name of Rosa Parks climbed the steps of a city bus to go home after a long day of work. After many stops, the bus began to fill and when a white passenger entered and all seats were taken, the driver asked the woman to stand and give up her seat. This was common and the law at the time. The woman told the driver no, which resulted in her arrest.
She wasn’t the first person in that city to refuse to give up her seat. Countless others had stood their ground and had been arrested. Why was this one instance different than all of the others? The people of Montgomery, Alabama liked Mrs. Parks, she was well-respected in the community and some began to stand up for her. This sparked a group mind that snowballed from there and became a tipping point in the Civil Rights movement.
Pack mentality is just that—a group mind. Rather than tear down our foundations, build them up. By sowing one small kernel of compassion, by demonstrating that we will not accept a violent culture, can the group mind be reversed?
It takes a voice of reason. It takes a sensitive soul—one that does not have thickened skin and shudders at the brutal images flashing on the screen before his eyes.
It takes just one small dissonant voice—a voice that says this is not for the greater good—to be heard.
Editor: Ty H Phillips