6 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO COUNTER GUN VIOLENCE

Cliff Schecter’s 2014 article from Moyers & company suggests 5 excellent ways ordinary citizens can have an impact on gun violence.  I encourage you to read the article and do what you can.

But I also suggest a 6th way all of us, regardless of political affiliation or position on the issue of gun violence, can have an impact.  I suggest we all need to breathe deeply and reset our respect attitude.  We all need to look for and nurture the value in every person we encounter.  The sweet little child across the street.  The difficult bagger at the grocery. The aggressive driver in our trunk.  The grouchy neighbor next door.

What would that do?

1) Every person would be valued and supported and less inclined to turn to violence for attention or validation.

2)  By paying better attention to all those around us, we would likely identify those in great need of help before they turned to violence.

3) The very difficult subject of gun violence could be discussed rationally by all sides of the topic, and an acceptable resolution reached.

4) The big picture of mental health/mental illness would not get lost in the debate and could actually be addressed.

5) The polarization in this country would be significantly reduced and we could approach and solve other divisive issues as well.

As I said in Resetting Respect, being respectful to all people, ideas and things seems simple.  It IS simple.  And profound.  It only requires an attitude adjustment, a shift from, “Show me,” to “You are valuable.”  We can start slowly and build the habit.  It is contagious — respect begets respect.  There is no penalty for slip-ups other than the status quo.  Respect doesn’t hurt anyone or anything.  It doesn’t cost anything other than a little mental effort to establish the habit.  Worst case scenario is that by living respectfully we lower our collective stress level.  Best case scenario is that respect becomes the norm and much of the rancor and posturing and pain and hatred in our society are eliminated. Then we, as individuals, as a society, and as a world can begin to address the major problems confronting us with a real chance to do something about them.  In fact, our respectful attitudes will already have begun the process!

 

POPE FRANCIS OFFERS RESPECT AND CHALLENGE

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In his address to the Congress of the United States on September 24, 2015, Pope Francis expressed great respect for the American people in the way he discussed what he values about us.  That was especially clear as he described how Abraham Lincoln fought for liberty, Martin Luther King, Jr., struggled for equal rights for all, Dorothy Day worked for social justice for everyone, and Thomas Merton promoted discussion and peace between peoples and religions.  But then, as Pope Francis elaborated on the efforts and ideas of those four representative Americans, he challenged the Congress, and he challenged each and every American, to live up to those role models, to apply what we can learn from their examples to the many crises facing our world today:  poverty and income inequality; immigration; heightened racial and religious tensions;  global warming. He acknowledged our value, and then challenged us to live up to that inherent value, to the beliefs that we hold.  And he told us he was confident we could do it.  Then, from the porch of the United States Capitol, he asked for the prayers and well-wishes of the thousands before him, an acknowledgment of the value of each person in the throng. What a wonderful and, I hope and suspect, effective example of respect Pope Francis has given us.

RESPECT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: GOP DEBATE, AUG 6

I must admit that while I was watching the first 2016 GOP debate live, I was focusing on my “sense of” the candidates, appraising their tactics, and musing on the intentions of the journalists.  It was when I recently watched the debate a second time (and I will admit I didn’t get to see it all), that I noticed some respect takeaways:

“We need to stop worrying about being loved and start worrying about being respected,” opined Governor Chris Christie about international relations.

“We need to give everybody the chance, treat everybody with respect and let them share in this great American dream that we have,” Governor John Kasich said, after having offered that while he does not agree with same-sex marriage, the court has ruled and he accepts it.

And Donald Trump.  He seems to confuse political correctness with respect and civility, and lowers the bar on behavior to the detriment of us all.  A more respectful Trump could help us know his policy positions rather than leaving us simply to respond, positively or negatively, to his style. A more respectful Trump might inspire the picture of a more presidential Trump rather than the bombastic incident-inciter he currently seems.  A more respectful Trump might help us decide whether his campaign is truly for real or just for his own amusement and gratification.

 

KEEPING TRACK OF RESPECT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

This post may be the first use of the word “respect” I’ve seen by a 2016 presidential candidate.  Let’s keep track — let me know if you’ve seen or see other instances of the word or respectful behavior, regardless of political affiliation!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday that he does not always see eye to eye with Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“She and I disagree on many issues,” Sanders, himself a 2016 White House hopeful, said of Clinton on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton,” he told host Jonathan Karl. “She is somebody I’ve known for 25 years.”

“I’m not going to be engaging in personal attacks against her,” Sanders added.

“The American people want a serious debate about serious issues, not personal attacks.”