Thursday, November 27, 2014

What's the rioting about?

It's hard to understand why a group of people would riot and destroy their own neighborhoods. It's painful to me to see that kind of anger. Certainly it cannot be about one single event or a single verdict.
We can all look back at times we exploded in anger about something. Observers may have felt we over reacted. In hindsight, we may see that we did as well. Our reaction was caused by a build up of frustration - a series of events. Quite likely our reaction created more problems rather than solving them.
Throughout this country and throughout the world, there are pockets of anger bubbling over into violence. These are symptoms of much deeper issues. If we focus on the symptoms alone, we can never solve the problem. We need to look beyond. That is hard work and requires our suspending judgement long enough to understand.
Our temptation is to dismiss the other person. Our temptation is to pass judgement on their anger and expression of it. Our temptation is to place full responsibility on them. They need to fix themselves.
The truth is that one person's suffering - one person's anger - one person's pain affects us all. We are connected. When that one person's suffering, anger and pain grows to a hundred, a thousand, a million, it will pour over onto more of us. If our response is equal anger and judgement, we help contribute to the growth of the suffering, anger and pain.
Outrage, judgement and dismissal of someone else is an easy path. It pushes responsibility to the other person for all the work needed to change. We don't have to do a thing.
In reality, the pain or suffering of others affects us all. We pay a price. The larger it grows, the bigger the price. If it affects all of us, we are best to participate in the solution.
If we truly believe we have better answers - we know a better path - we need to take responsibility for helping others to see it too. That requires love and compassion. It requires actually trying to understand the source of the other person's pain and actually helping them overcome it.  When we do this, we will grow and overcome our own issues.
If we could all make a commitment to doing this on just a small level, we can begin to change the world. It begins with us.
It starts with training our spirit and minds to seek the connection we all share. It starts with understanding that the pain and suffering of another is our own pain as well. It requires patience and a long term commitment with no expectation of immediate gratification. That's a tall order and it's not easy.

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