I have been allowing thoughts to simmer for a while now even as I have spoken to most of my clients about what happened in Uvalde, Texas. You know the story--an 18 year old went into a classroom, locked the door and killed children and teachers. Like most Texans, if not all of America, I was shaken to the core. I felt hopeless and wrecked. The next day I saw a comment saying, "F--k the Republicans." Very helpful. What can be done? What do we do? What is wrong with us?
Stay with me here--I'll put it all together.
I was walking my pups in my neighborhood and right by a sign saying "A Proud Parent of a (Blank) High School Senior" was a sign that said, "F--k Governor Abbott." Nice.
I was walking said pups this morning and a woman probably in her 60s whom I have passed and waved to numerous times over the years, says to me in a shaken up voice, "Avoid the big house on the next street! The f---ing a--hole yelled at me for shooing his charging dog at me! He told me to 'Keep walking and stop being mean.'" This woman doesn't know me other than being a dog-walker with cute pups. Yet she didn't hesitate one iota to use harsh language telling me a story. I get it, she was shaken up, but he's a f---ing a--hole? Really?
We can talk about guns, we can talk about policy, we can talk about mental illness (I hate the term--brain illness is more accurate), we can talk about all of this until the cows come home. But it will NOT stop until we become a more civil country and people. Our political leaders ON BOTH SIDES use coarse language and vitriol to demonize the other. Parents scream obscenities at each other and flip drivers off in front to their children. Children no longer think twice about dropping the f-bomb in front of a stranger (me) and continue on talking.( I get it--I'm older--but when I was a teenager if we swore in front of an adult we would turn red and apologize profusely and pray to God they didn't know our parents.) Why do they do this? Because their parents and adult friends talk this way. And if they don't, our national leaders do and it's ok because, hey, they're right and on the "right side of history!" Everyone is so angry. Harshness is no big deal.
I could go on and on but I won't. So where does this leave us? We can decide RIGHT NOW to end the verbal vomit, the verbal violence and model civility and moderation. It starts with each individual and each one of us deciding to be moderate with our partners when we are angry. It starts with making decisions about how much (if any) violence we allow in our kids' video games so we aren't deadening the senses of seeing brains blown to pieces. It starts with taking a breath and yes, being angry but choosing to LOSE THE HARSHNESS. It starts with choosing to not join the mob and hating the political opposition and remembering that thoughtful debate and respectful disagreement used to be a thing and can be so once again. It starts with your own thoughts unspoken. When my thoughts are harsh, I try, not always successfully, to change what I thought and be more charitable to the person with whom I disagree. If you think about it, there is just no room for harshness.
I cannot change what happened in Uvalde, nor in any of the other mass shootings in our country. I wish things were different. But I am sure of one thing--kindness, a lack of harshness and a commitment to living a non-violent life, beginning with language and tone, allows me to be an agent of change in my house, in my community and in my interactions with others. And that gives me hope.