September 16, 2011

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Since our family decided to cut off the cable I get most of our news in my car.  New announcements about killings in Afghanistan or shootings nearby fly through the airways and ring in my ears.  My reaction is almost always the same.  I tilt my head to the right and my eyes flit in the direction of the the radio.  My brow furrows, my body language says 'did I just hear you correctly!?' Then I go back to thinking about my grocery list.  I commit about 30 seconds of my thoughts to the sadness and loss... and then I move on.  I like to think I am a compassionate person who has empathy for others and their pain.  I have been through loss and pain in my lifetime.  I get it.  But I am also a practical person who has to get through her day.  I may mention something about whatever bad news I have heard that day to my husband over dinner or chat about it with a girlfriend on the phone.  But who is that really helping other than myself?  Maybe I am not as good as I would hope.

Recently I watched a movie that got me thinking.  I love it when movies do that to me.  It was called The Conspirator directed by Robert Redford.  It tells the story of Mary Surratt and her trial.  She is called into question after her son and a group, including John Wilkes Boothe, plan and then assassinate President Lincoln.  Because she ran a boarding house, and rented to some in the group, she is charged with conspiracy.  The trial was unconstitutional due to the fact that she was not allowed a trial in front of a jury of her peers.  Generals from the North decided her fate.  She was a Southern woman and feelings between the North and the South were still raw from the civil war.  I did not know my US history well enough to remember what the outcome would be as I watched this movie.  I couldn't believe the result of her trial.  I couldn't believe her son hid in safety and let his mother pay for his crimes.  My hat is off to Mr Redford for a job well done in directing this movie.  He made me cry like a baby (but that isn't hard).

My first thoughts after watching The Conspirator were that people of that day were so misguided and let prejudice blind their judgement.  How glad I am to live in a country today that is not so divided.  Then my thoughts turned to all the stories I had heard over the 911 weekend.  One in particular stood out.  Several Muslims in the San Diego area were interviewed about how they were treated just after the September eleventh attacks.  These people attended the same mosque as the men who flew the airplanes on 9-11.  They told stories of the hatred and disdain they felt from their community.  They endured the mistreatment of their children and threats to their lives,  and what did they do?  Endured.  They kept the doors to their mosque open.  They still hold community outreach programs for the public.  I really admire that strength.

Today as I dropped of some tennis shoes for my forgetful teen so that he could run with the cross country team after school, I caught a bit of the morning announcements.  I heard this: "The gay and lesbian awareness club will be meeting in a new location at lunch today... room 314, all are welcome"  My son overheard me remarking about this to a friend on the phone this afternoon.  When I hung up, he made the comment that he didn't even hear that announcement and he was glad he didn't.  I chose my next words carefully. "God loves all his children equally- I expect you to try and do the same."  

It is this hatred of one another that gets us riled up and makes us crash into buildings... Makes us rush to judgement.  Makes us invade countries.  Make unkind comments.  I am not sure what to do about the inhumane acts I hear about on the radio, but I know that in my home I will try my very hardest to teach humanity.  Hopefully by my example.  

I was proud to hear my kids playing nicely this afternoon (even though an hour earlier there were tears).  Middle Boy helped his sister build a killer fort.  When she then asked him if he would please help her find her missing ipod (an old hand-me-down she has been missing and making wanted posters for),  his reply was classic.  "I will help you with that tomorrow- only one nice thing per day."  It would seem we still have some work to do at our house.

1 comment:

M-Cat said...

Laughing the only one nice thing per day..... : )

Sadly, I fear that our country is more divided than ever. Well, maybe not civil war generation, but we are certainly a country whse people are clearly divided and loud about it.