Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
Recently a very good friend posted on Facebook the picture below. It compares the relationship of slaves to the Confederate War Flag to the relationship Jews in Nazi concentration camps had with the flag of the Third Reich.
It is effective in communicating the “true” sinister nature of the Confederate War Flag. However for most of the period of slavery in the United States, slaves first lived under the British flag, then the flag of the United States. The Confederate War Flag did not come into existence until the War Between the States. In fact the South had several flags during that time, and what has become known as the Confederate Flag was really not adopted as any kind of symbol until after the Civil War – at which time slavery was at an end. I have no love for the Confederate Flag, but I don’t understand the posted image.
Another one of my good friends posted the following picture on Facebook even more recently. It points out that almost 3000 box cutter deaths have occurred since September 11, 2001, and that not one Democratic Politician has called for controlling this dangerous weapon.
I will accept at face value that both the number of deaths and the lack of legislation are true, but I still do not know what this has to do with gun laws. Even a casual review of statistics show that there are 2000+ violent deaths in America from handguns each year. This number is more than 10 times the annual number of deaths attributed to box cutters (and keep in mind the illustration does not say if it is total box cutter related deaths, or murders, or suicides, or accidents). Also, there are likely many more box cutters out there than handguns.
What do these two pictures have in common? They raise tempers rather than understanding. They are part of a disturbing trend to make points on passionate issues through fear mongering, misleading information, and misdirection. Facebook is not the only source of these tactics. They are played out on a grand scale on most political stages, and from a shock and awe starved national media. In my opinion it is the most disturbing remnant of September 11th - the amount of power that fear holds over a population compared to reason.
What has happened to true debate? Why has the issuance of facts been replaced by rabblerousing? When did it become fashionable to get a rise out of someone instead of leaving them better informed? Even having to ask these questions leave me feeling diminished, and it leaves me distracted from the understanding of race issues, violence, hatred, and war. Not that I alone could ever understand such things, but the reduction of issues to sound bites is not aiding in the attempt.
It would be easy at this point to let myself slip into rant invoking mass killings here, racist symbols there, and suppression of rights (religious, personal, 2nd Amendment, you name it). But this is not an attempt to grab some unclaimed piece of moral high ground as yet untouched on whatever the issues of the moment are.
The point is simply this: Morality and doing what is right are unfortunately not easy to define or enact. Trying to is only made harder; or indeed impossible, by raising tempers rather than awareness. I don’t have answers, but I want to help look for them. I don’t nearly know everything, but I would like to learn and grow as much as possible. I am not immune from hate but I do prefer love. Why can’t we get back to raising the level of debate in American, instead of simply raising the level of rhetoric?