I mourn the deaths of the children and adults in Newtown, CT, killed in a Rambo-style massacre by an American.
I mourn the deaths of children and adults everywhere who have been killed by weapons made in the United States, sold by the United States.
I mourn the loss of dignity of people trying to make a living, whom U.S. culture offers jobs as accessories to mass murder – working for defense contractors, the military, as a politician supporting war, or as an artist developing movies, video games, even novels, which teach and glorify mass murder.
I mourn being part of a culture which lives on the American continent only because our forefathers mass-murdered millions of indigenous people (including some of my native Algonquian relatives) and stole the land.
To end the cycle of violence that is systemic in U.S. society, what would happen if the government sets an example by withdrawing the military from everywhere except military bases in the 50 states and stops making and selling weapons for export? What if U.S. tax dollars, instead of paying for mass murder, were used for humanitarian projects such as housing, education, health, community gardens, parks, arts and music?
As Gandhi and other pacifists have demonstrated throughout history, we can resolve conflicts in other ways, without violence.
I mourn. And I have hope – for any problem created by humans can be solved by humans.
There are myriads of paths of learning how to live without violence. One path is improving communication skills and the art of dialog. Compassionate communication, also known as “nonviolent communication,” is a skill we can learn through books and classes and practice. Lots of practice. It involves expressing our observations, feelings, needs, and requests in respectful ways, and learning how to better listen with empathy.
U.S. former president Jimmy Carter is an expert mediator of international conflicts. In a talk he gave at Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles, he said that all international conflicts are based on the same issues as any disagreement in a family. The scale is the only difference. What if the family is filled with domestic abuse, as our entire society seems to be?
Global domestic abuse? There are excellent books and programs for victims of abuse (everyone in the world), as well as programs for the abusers to learn how to change. The key is to reflect, with the help of a skilled guide, on one’s own beliefs, and to embrace other beliefs that are more respectful of life.
As Nichiren Daishonin wrote many centuries ago, “You must quickly reform the tenets you hold in your heart.”
Nothing is impossible.