Another mass murder has occurred in America, and, once again, outraged Americans have taken to social media to make their perspectives known. This is an online dialogue far too many people have grown tired of — and by “tired” I don’t mean “bored of” but rather tired from the depths of our souls.
Collectively, we are all outraged — even if we don’t agree on what we are outraged about. And so, we attempt to exorcise our pain by pointing fingers and placing blame. Some people blame Muslims; some people blame evangelicals; some people blame the right-wing conservatives; some people blame the left-wing liberals; some people blame the NRA; some people blame the second amendment and everyone who they believe has misinterpreted it; some people blame the mentally ill; some people blame a government that doesn’t provide proper care for the mentally ill; some people blame the politicians; some people blame big government; and some people blame small government. The point is that when we are in pain, we blame anyone and everyone who might bear responsibility without considering the fact that everyone single one of us shares in the responsibility.
We participate in an act of violence every time we judge, evaluate, label and blame a person. We perpetuate violence every time we name call. We perpetuate violence every time we see an act of violence, which is another person’s expression of pain, and seek to layer on more pain rather that to reach out to that person with the intent to understand the source of his pain and attend to it. We perpetuate violence when we exclude others from social, economic, educational, spiritual and cultural opportunities because they look, sound, dress and are named differently than us.
We are perpetuators of violence when we turn our backs on those in society who are oppressed, which in the United States includes a vast number of people including but not limited to Muslims, African-Americans, members of the LGBT community and people living in extreme poverty, and choose to fear them because there is something in us that is so deeply afraid to love.
I believe almost every American wants mass murders and extreme acts of violence to end. But do we want it to end bad enough to welcome a Muslim, African-American, gay person, Republican or Democrat into our homes to share a meal and ask the question: “Tell me about yourself? I want to know you. I want to understand you. I want to learn what you have to teach me.”
If you can’t answer yes to that question, there are no gun laws that can keep you safe. There are no politicians who can restore America to some magical form of greatness. We are the cavalry we have been waiting for. We can be the change, or we can accept what we have already allowed our fear to create — a self-perpetuating cycle of violence.
An international speaker, peace-building trainer and mediator, Robyn works with individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations in discovering the root causes of their conflicts, so they may transform their relationships and create new and productive paths forward individually and as teams. She also works with community leaders and political and governmental leaders to develop grassroots efforts for building sustainable peace in areas of historic conflict. In this capacity, she has been featured in news outlets internationally.