There are a lot of people out there who don't feel listened to.
Here's the thing about violence--we give it way more respect than it deserves. Because we consider tragic things holy, the aftermath of violence tends to be treated with a certain kind of awe; we honor people who died by violence much more readily than we do most intentional accomplishments. We reserve a kind of horrified respect for the aggressors; the same respect we give to other mysterious, incomprehensible, fearful forces.
But neither violence nor its outcomes are remotely respectable. Not by any measure. It defies every quality of a well-cultivated mind--self-restraint, patience, broad-mindedness, foresight, empathy. It is as shortsighted, small-minded, and unimaginative as a tool can be. It's not really incomprehensible or mysterious. It's just a brutish, simplistic solution to problems we can all relate to.
That it is still being employed, blunt-object style, by society at large, when we are on the other hand so sophisticated as to enable people across the globe to have nightly conversations with one another, shows just how entrenched and petrified our leadership has become.
Take comfort in knowing they don't represent the vast majority of people. Quite the opposite.
Well, okay, but even so, there's still a lot of desire for violence out there. There are still a lot of men, and, yes, women (far fewer, but they exist) who try to solve their powerlessness by asserting power in the most basic way on the world around them. Who can't see the beauty in crafting more complex and mutually agreeable solutions.
What do we do with all of that? We can't just let it be, can we? Isn't it our noble calling to attack and shame it and keep it in a perpetual state of discomfort until it changes?
Well, except, if you keep picking the scab immediately after it forms, the skin never has time to heal underneath.
I mean this more on a person-to-person level, because the Dakota Access Pipeline and the general Fossil Fuel crisis, the unjustifiable imprisonment of so many Americans, the puppet election of the oligarchy, these things are urgent and they deserve constant, relentless pressure and attacks.
But when it comes to other human beings, maybe it's our job just to love them as best we can for exactly who they are, like, for the majority of the time, and mayyybe once in a while, when they're feeling particularly receptive, offer them some insight?
I like to call this "holding space," and now I try to do it for myself, not just for others.
Remembering that "perfect" isn't really a thing in this time and space, let alone something anyone is supposed to already be. Seeing things that go wrong as interesting challenges instead of punishments for something someone was supposed to already be, but wasn't. Realizing that depending on what area of life you look at, you're no more advanced, or remedial, than most. Leaving both the "I'm awesome" and "I'm the worst" ego games alone (as much as possible).
Violence is attention-getting, and that's part of the point of it. I think it's worth trying to see all people right now, instead of waiting for them to do something worthy of praise, instead of waiting to love them until they've attained our approval by accessing and teaching themselves the mandatory things as quickly as possible. When we can manage to. And if we can't love them, we should hold space for them until they do learn.
Everyone deserves the space to become.