We Need to Let This Hurt: The Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting


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The tragedy on December 14th of 20 small children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and 7 adults losing their lives during a time of anticipation and hope has brought people to their knees.  No matter how you turn this, no sense is to be made of the killing.  Especially of little children.  Little children full of the excitement and anticipation of Christmas.  It hurts.

Unfortunately, as I watched the story unfold, I noticed the frenzy begin to build.  Reporters immediately began speculating and sensationalizing.  It was repulsive.  It didn’t take long for the wheels of political agenda to begin turning.  And I turned the tv off.

Today the television and internet are covered with murmurs from people searching for answers and placing blame.  I think this is a typical human response to the unfathomable.  A way of trying to find a floor under your feet again when the floor has been ripped away. We are frantic for answers.  Frantic for a solution. I was guilty of it myself until I asked one question:

What is needed to wake humanity up?

The answer was loud and clear.  We need to grieve.  This is not the time for agendas and mud-slinging.  This is not the time to become intellectual.  We need to sit quietly and feel how much this hurts us all.  We need to feel what it is to be human and to be frail.  We need to let this become real.

It is real.  These weren’t fantasy people in some far off land who seem nothing more than images on a tv screen.  These felt like family members.  We all felt it.  They ARE family.  We are all family on this planet.  And it hurts.  Grieve.

Now imagine all those innocent people throughout history, and every day, who lose their lives to senseless violence and war, to untreated disease, to starvation and exposure.  It’s no different.  They too are family.  And it hurts.  Grieve.

Feel the human condition no matter how uncomfortable.  It’s time to stop avoiding it.

But we recoil.  We don’t like emotional pain.  We’ve become very good at the art of distracting ourselves from it.  It’s so easy to redirect the pain from the warmth of the heart into the cold territory of the head where we don’t feel anything.  And that is why empathy is lost.  Grieve.

Let our pain, for once, become conscious.  Conscious hurt leads to conscious solutions.  Pain that’s avoided or resisted still exists but it becomes subconscious.  It’s that subconscious pain that causes us to pick and choose agendas and to be emotionally manipulated by those with agendas.  Now is not the time to go back to sleep.  Wake up and grieve.

We need to let this hurt.  We need to feel it.  We need to become human beings again.  The senseless inhumanity needs to stop.  I could probably sit and wax intellectually about this for another 1,000 words but there is no point.  It just hurts.  There is nothing more important than this.  FEEL IT.  Please.  Only then will the real answers be clear.  Let the heart guide us to the proper agendas this time.  Let’s CHANGE.  Let’s become human.  Grieve.  That is the flame of love.  Let it light the way to a truth that will guide us to a better tomorrow.

Hold my hand and we can bear this as one.  Don’t let the deaths of these children be meaningless.  Let the light of their souls lead us into meaningful change.

If you agree with me, please pass this on.

Muslims In Libya Condemn Violence and Apologize to Americans


I discovered these pictures on the blog Simply Sammi via We Think, We Dream.  They are moving and they’re important.  As American warships are approaching the Libyan coast this is the side of things we don’t get to see.  To quote “WeThink, We Dream”:

“Of course the news won’t show this.  No, they’ll just keep stating over and over that the US is sending two warships to the area because that is more important than showing Americans that not all Muslims are evil like they already believe because that would be asking too much of the media.”

The irony is not lost on the people of Benghazi.  Radical fundamentalists, protesting their prophet being portrayed in a recently-released satirical film called the “Innocence of Muslims” as a crazy murderous barbarian bombed the U.S.Consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. Ambassador and three others have responded by acting like crazy murderous barbarians.  Now the Embassies in Cairo and and Yemen have been attacked by protestors who are behaving like crazy murderous barbarians.  The irony, unfortunately, is lost on them.

Please look at the following photos and understand.  Not all Muslims are like those committing these acts.  Please pass this on so their voices may be heard above the din of sensationalist media.  I do not, however, under any circumstance sympathise or condone the actions of violent men and women who hide behind religion to exercise their darker bloodlusts.  I find using any god as an excuse for such things abhorrent.  People like these offenders believe an “eye for an eye” as retribution is their duty, never realizing that it’s nothing but the perpetuation of a never ending cycle of revenge and ultimately destructive.  It solves nothing as is illustrated by U.S warships on the move.  Another war.

Was the movie in poor taste?  Yes, however many such movies exist satirizing different religions and have not led to bloodshed.  People can be mature enough to simply turn away.  People will always inevitably voice opinions we don’t agree with.

Was this film worth bloodshed?  NO.  NO.  NO.  Letting it die in obscurity instead of feeding its publicity would have been the smarter move.  Now it’s going viral as the world’s curiosity has been piqued.  I viewed the trailer.  I’m equally guilty.  It wasn’t worth it.

Let the peaceful voices of these people be heard.  Please pass this on.

 

Opinions?  Do we really need more warlike involvement in the Middle East?  What are your fears?

Charlie Chaplin and The Great Dictator: The Speech that Resounds Across Time


How can you not be moved by this face?  The face that says “I’m just like you” but brows speak of an ability to find surprise in the mundane.  The mustache says “I may not be perfect, but I try” and the eyes shine the light of a man’s sorrow and a boy’s innocent curiosity.  I have always adored Charlie Chaplin for just these things and so much more.

The Movies Now Network here in India has been airing Charlie Chaplin movies every Thursday evening this month.  I’ve been so grateful and delighted to have been reminded of the artistry and comedic genius of Mr. Chaplin.  The man was a remarkable comedian and evokes more belly laughter in a black and white silent film than any in-living-color comedian could hope to master with such ease and grace.

But let me get around to the point I’m writing this piece.  Last night’s movie was The Great Dictator.  Released in October of 1940, this was Chaplin’s first true “talkie” film although he continued making silent films well into a decade where they had left fashion.  If you’re not familiar with this flick, it lampoons Hitler and Nazi Germany.  Like all of his films, Chaplin, wrote, directed, produced and starred in its leading role.

Chaplin plays two characters in this film.  One is a Jewish barber and the other is Adenoid Hynkel  (his version of Adolph Hitler).  If you’d like to know more about the film and its plot, this link should satisfy your curiosity.

Although this proved to be his most successful film, I personally didn’t find it had as much whimsy and simplistic depth as his silent films.  What did stand out, however, and the reason you’re reading about it on this blog, was a totally unexpected speech at the very end of the movie.  Chaplin was a master of those honest and poignant blind-siding moments that never fail to take my breath away and this was one of those.  The speech literally reached across the gulf of decades and spoke to real current world issues with both honesty and hope.  I was so moved I had to pull it out of yesteryear’s closet in hopes of enforcing the sentiment that the “machine men with machine hearts” never have our best interests in mind in a world where violence and greed seem to be the guiding force of humanity.

First, let me set up what has happened to lead our character, the Jewish barber, to the predicament he finds himself in that leads to his speech.  He escapes from a concentration camp wearing the enemy’s uniform.  Border guards mistake him for Hynkel because they look nearly identical.  At the same time, Hynkel falls overboard during a duck-hunting trip and mistaken for the barber and is arrested by his own soldiers.  The barber, now secretly assuming Hynkel’s identity is taken to the capital of Osterlich to make a victory speech.  He is introduced to the throngs by Minister of the Interior Garbitsch who decries free speech and argues for the subjugation of the Jews.

Then our reluctant hero takes the podium and says:

“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish. . .

Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
“The kingdom of God is within man”
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

. . .

Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.

The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up.”

Here is the scene where he makes the speech from the film “The Great Dictator”:

I hope this moved you as it did me.  I hope you will share it with those you think might benefit.  Look up, Look up.  We must never stop looking up.

If you enjoy Charlie Chaplin, you may also enjoy A Little Sweetness–Charlie Chaplin Kiss Me.