I know there are some who will somehow twist “to pause and reflect” into “to feel bad and ashamed about being the majority”, and I’d like to address that now before it has the chance to emerge later.
Firstly…for those who read the quote and got that urge to do the above twisting…perhaps you should “pause and reflect” upon your own feelings? And just like the above quote, I mean the words only as they are defined: Reflection is not self-condemnation, pausing does not imply wrongness. Got that? Great.
If it helps, try to synergize this with a quote that’s similar in spirit: “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Power is the ability to make change, and enforce change, in the world and lives of others, and it seems to me that the more power one has, the wiser one should be about if and how and when and why they should use their power, lest it lead to disastrous consequences. This message is echoed in nearly every single action and superpower movie out there, when the hero has that moment of rashness or foolishness that causes that misuse of their newly-found power. But in the movies, the consequences are usually balanced or exceeded by the hero’s redemption, once they can find the wisdom to use their power properly.
The power of the majority is never a trivial power. It has been used rashly in the past, violently, viciously, ignorantly, and tragically. And it has (though I feel less often in history) been used wisely, compassionately, moderately, lovingly, fairly, and in ways that heal and move us all forward.
It seems to me whenever we should find ourselves in the majority, or inheriting or coming into any kind of great power, that we should always pause and reflect…so that we might use it responsibly and to the benefit of all, especially those without it.
Just to make it clear on where I stand…I do not care who is doing the oppressing, whether it’s a terrorist group, or an enemy of the state, or an ally, or our own forces…oppression remains oppression, and should not be condoned or encouraged or excused. Past suffering gives no license to visit suffering on others.
A good question to ask here (especially to those who would take issue to this cartoon) is if these kinds of actions were undertaken by, say, North Korea or Iran or some country or group we (US point of view) condemn and dislike, would it be excusable? Would we defend their right to do this? Would pointing it out like this be over the top or unjustified?
Seems to me, if we really care about our allies, we would want them to stop oppressing others and continuing a cycle of violence. Yes, I know that takes two sides, not one alone. But actions, many recognized as illegal by the UN and Geneva-convention-supporting countries, seem to be contrary to peace. Seems to me there’s a parallel that could be drawn here between this, and erosion of Native American lands by the US government. The US government was not in the right then…and these settlements and actions by Israel are not right now. Unfortunately, the history of many countries and governments have blatantly included oppression of others, often illegal both in terms of their own laws, and basic human decency.
If we are to truly be allies here, shouldn’t we be the ones telling them to knock it off? To point out that what they’re doing is contrary to their own good, and the good of the innocents that get caught in the crossfire?
Easier said than done, I know…but there’s a difference between stumbling toward the general direction of peace, and sprinting with purpose toward conflict, death, and continuing violence.
There’s a great deal of real pain and suffering that has happened here…I think that seems to outweigh any counterarguments of disrespect? Seems that much of that energy could go toward easing suffering, seeking peaceful solutions, and easing this tension, since obviously tightening it and fueling it will only lead to known and tragic ends.
There are many out there who would see these words as naive.
But it seems to me that the act of following this perspective helps fulfill itself.
Those who are not good at heart…often arrive there by believing others are not. So much suffering happens because we deem some evil, or unclean, or savage, or wicked, or not worthy enough to remain on this earth. Religious wars…regular wars…ethnic cleansing…the Holocaust…witch trials…oppression and enslavement of native peoples by foreign invaders…so many of these are fueled by the idea of punishing, wiping out, or executing justice, sometimes even “holy” justice, against those who are seen as wicked.
If we all had hearts like this child, the world might know peace.
(quasi-relevant rant follows)
Though as far too many people know, love isn’t always present. There are people in this world where cruelty, zeal, indifference, apathy, lust, greed, rage, or more overwhelm the place within them where love, kindness, respect, and decency should be. Destruction and devastation and tragedy happen in their wake.
Love isn’t always present. And some may ask “where was love when I needed it? Where was someone who cared when I needed help? Love failed me when I was hurting the most,” and I wish I had calming, soothing answers that set all things right…but I do not.
This is not a just existence…too much tragedy destroys any theory of consistently applied karma this side of life…but this is not an unjust existence either, with the deck stacked always against us. This existence is what we all collectively make of it. And where we bring love and caring and kindness and understanding to ourselves and others, we shift life in favor of blossoming and healing.
And we need that blossoming in the world. We need that healing. We need to pursue that ideal, and find the love spoken of here, for far too many have been scarred by those devoid of love.
We speak of politics as our savior, or perhaps religion, but without sincere love and caring these things are just as empty and scarring as the individuals who lack them as well, and we know from history, past and present, how easy it is within these systems for dogma and doctrine and zeal to kick love and acceptance and understanding out the door and treat it as a leper.
Love can change the world. It can do even greater. And that can seem absurd or daunting…but a single act, reaching out to a single person, is enough to change everything. Each person carries their own world with them. Love extended to the mourning, to the wounded…to those raped, or abused, or bullied, or ill, or struggling in any way, doesn’t just change the world…it changes many worlds, each of their worlds.
I don’t wish to say we have a duty to love, for love is not obligation, but opportunity, and beyond that, joy. So do you want to change worlds? Become a student of love, empathy, and understanding.
im not saying he doesn’t have a mental illness, because he really does. but this is very true…
This isn’t true at all.
It wasn’t considered terrorism because he didn’t claim to be doing it for a “higher” purpose, he didn’t affiliate himself with any terrorist organization, and he didn’t do it with the intentions of making an impact on any government.
He IS a thug - he just so happens to be a thug with a mental illness.
Going to have to agree.
If we’re talking about knee-jerk judgment BEFORE facts were known, THEN it would be prejudiced to come to a conclusion.
If after the facts were known one was STILL using an INCORRECT stereotyped based labeling, then it’s still a problem.
However, each of these things, terrorism, thug, mental illness, corresponds both with direct motivation for the attacks, and activity leading up to the attacks. They’re pretty distinct in what they all mean. They’re also not mutually exclusive.
Terrorism tends to suggest a socio/political and/or religious motive, and often direct connection with terrorist groups, usually targeting elements of opposing states, factions, and religions, and usually attempting to leverage terror and fear and intimidation by targeting innocents, or not caring if innocents become casualties. And while this does include Islamic terrorist groups, it includes white folks like Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing and Anders Breivik of the Norway terrorist attack, as well as the IRA.
In this particular case, to my knowledge at this time, we don’t know if he has some kind of sociopolitical creed or stance that would motivate such an attack. So at this time we don’t know if he fits the qualification as a terrorist. His attack created TERROR, yes, but as above, there’s more to it than that.
Thugs are…thugs. No restrictions on race, religion, ethnicity, or sociopolitical standing. Thuggish behavior is usually defined by personal intimidation and tactics to hold or maintain power over others through force or fear or blackmail. This can cover gangs, organized crime, drug cartels, and all of that.
To my knowledge at this time this individual is not involved in any of these thuggish groups, and no evidence has emerged yet of thuggish behavior. So he doesn’t fit the qualifications of a thug.
Mental illness is mental illness, and can be present along with the other two things we’re talking about here. We’ve seen this at work. We’ve seen this in Jared Loughner in the attack on Representative Giffords, and in Seung-Hui Cho’s massacre at Virginia Tech. Typically those who are mentally ill don’t have coherent sociopolitical stances, though they can be absorbed into extremist groups with them. Because these particular kinds of mental illnesses (those that lead to psychotic breaks and lethal violence) do not usually allow for communication and teamwork, and tend to isolate, these attacks are typically but not always solo. And while the examples given above can be very clearly diagnosed as mentally ill, it’s not always so clear. Often this can be very subtle.
James Holmes appears to have signs of mental illness (either feigned or real), and as details emerge and he is evaluated, it’s likely that he will be found to have psychotic tendencies. Again, this doesn’t rule out the other two categories, but this is what’s known so far. The evidence will direct the rest.
Also, just to chuck this in at the end, when it’s people in power and in control of a government performing terrorism, no matter their race nor color nor creed, we typically cloak that by calling it “war.”
“And further more there are no innocent people. So what you killed non-combatants, fuck em!”
You are a disgraceful human being.
sorry but liz is about to fucking hurt a bitch
this is pretty much like illegal flag code. it’s going against everything. as a girl scout, if our flag touched the ground, it was protocol to be burned. Like, you don’t ever damage your flag. I was so nervous about my cosplay flag because it was getting destroyed. But I didn’t fucking harm it any more
Don’t fucking write such bad things on our flags
Don’t hang it upside down
You could probably get discharged from the military for that, dumbass.
It’s a fucking flag. Get the fuck over it. He’s making a serious point about human lives for god sake.
What is done to the flag, the symbol of our country, does not desecrate the country.
What is done in the name of that flag, by the orders of that flag, in the sanction and approval of that flag, has the power to uplift or desecrate the country. What has been done in Iraq, Afganistan, and many other places in the name of this flag, by the orders of this flag, in the sanction and approval of this flag, stain what that flag should mean. Can we honestly call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave with what we have done? You can’t set events in motion which cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands and cover that with an “oops.” Especially when the aggressive and uncompromising policies continue.
If there is any desecration done to our country, the character we like to praise and celebrate, it is not done by those who burn flags.
One billion people desecrating or burning our flag does not anger and sadden me compared to what we have done to ourselves in these recent wars. Those behind those decisions, those who sought war over reason and left countryfulls of bodies in the wake of history, tarnish us more than anything that could possibly be done to our flag. Flag-burning and desecration does not alter our character. Betraying the dream and longing for a just and wise character damages our character.
Understand, those who protest, those who do this, especially our soldiers, do it not out of hatred but out of love for a country that they want to truly reflect those sterling and shining values attributed, uncritically to it. Pointing out the hypocrisy, using this symbol to say “hey…as a country we are not what we say we are…we do not express the values we say we value…we cannot be the land of the free and the home of the brave simply because we sing that we are if our actions reflect the opposite instead”, is the duty of those who are loyal to restoring the dream we want America to be for all people, and admitting to and ending the nightmares we have caused.
And all that said, there are areas where we do good. There are some decisions and peoples and policies that are done well. There are some leaders who make wise decisions. We are not an evil empire, though as a whole our country can present itself as schizophrenic, dishing out both peace and goodness and evil and death, even if done not out of malice but out of ignorance, stupidity, or unchecked zeal.
Our foundation and our vision of ourselves is a good one, though we cannot possibly make that vision a reality without first understanding that the positive light in which we see ourselves is not wholly true, that we are not flawless, that we are not faultless, that we have done horrors ourselves. Only by acknowledging these things, and through this wisdom letting our actions truly reflect what we embrace as our principles, can we become what we mistakenly believe we already are.
Or to put it even more simply and generally, if we ever place any symbol beyond the bounds of questioning and intelligent, just criticism, then the entity clad in that symbol becomes beyond reproach and may work whatever evil it wills through whatever justification it wills.
This wisdom is not new. We know this. We have seen the extreme cases with the symbol of Nazi Germany, or the symbol of the Catholic church during the inquisitions and crusades. Horrors have been done in the names of symbols which authorities have declared sacrosanct. Shall we protest these actions? Shall we gather attention to the hypocrisy? Shall we wake ourselves to our Mr. Hyde nature which are loathe to admit? How else can we fix what has gone wrong? How else are we to stand for all we say we stand for?
On the question on if flag burning is the best or wisest vehicle for protest, that’s up for disagreement. You get shock value and attention fast. It’s an efficient way of expressing that the thing you are waving is not symbolizing what you are doing…there is a massive and terrible disconnect. But at the same time flag burning provokes outrage and defensiveness rather than critical thought and serious considering, both of which are necessary for that message to live and grow and cause the change hungered for.
So in that respect…while I do not think flag burning is some across-the-board morally wrong action, I feel that it is not the most efficient means of protest or change. It enrages rather than encourages thought. I think we can do better, but at the same time symbols should not be beyond reproach.
The original quote is a true one: if the truth is that innocents have been killed, on a massive scale, time and time again, no matter if we acted as wolves or acted in ignorance or acted in stupidity or acted as soldiers assuming those we gun down MUST be the enemy, then no symbol can cover it, whether that symbol be “holy” or the stars and stripes. Truth is reality. A flag is an ideal. No ideal justifies or covers a reality soaked in innocent blood.
God seems to be slacking..
This is what happens when you redefine goodness from what it is truly Good and nourishing and kind and helpful for those around you, to what old books and religious institutions label as “good.” When the definition of “good” includes “inflicting evil on people”, then you’re working from a very corrupted and twisted definition.
What is Good will not change. What is Good is something even children can reason toward through the Golden Rule. What is Good works for the well-being of all, and comes from a sincere caring for all involved. It is tightly coupled to the reality of all involved. To try to change that, divorce the definition from reality, and declare that hurting and punishing others is “good”, does not change what true Good is. Instead it’s like slight of hand: trickery to make you think it is in the other hand, and mean something else, but true Good can never encompass evil, or work it, otherwise we’re not talking about Good anymore, just smoke and mirrors, a facsimile trying to pass itself off as something that it really isn’t:
“Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. War is peace. Working evil on others is good.”
Twisted, corrupted, hijacked definitions, meant to control and sway the populace.
If there is a God, and he is as these verses and people say, then he is not Good, but also hijacking and corrupting the nature of that idea, and I have nothing but loathing and rebellion for such a being and his followers who deceive the world by declaring that evil is “good”.
But if there is a God and he IS Good, then he (or she or it) is nothing like what these old testament verses and priests and religious institutions say. Good and Love are unchanging. We know what they are like. And if there is a God, and if God is Good, then there is only one verse I know which shows his nature clearly, Corinthians 13-4:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
If God is Good, if God is Love, then replace Love with God in this verse and then Goodness, Love, and God are one, and no evil can be worked from such a being, for it breaks its own nature. And obviously there is a lot that would have to be thrown out, book-wise and theology-wise, which just doesn’t mesh with the idea of a truly Good God.
And if there is no God, then I at least have a very good, strong, and consistent picture of Love and Goodness which is tightly bound to the reality of people around me, and I will follow that, and nurture that in me as I can, and find fulfillment there, and use what I know to see through the deception of those who would steal these words and use them for evil ends.
“You don’t need to talk to someone, you don’t need to talk about it, you don’t need to do anything! You just need to get over it and move on and be happy!”
That would be awesome if it worked that way, it really would.
But these words come from a perspective where it’s enough to simply will yourself happy. Like Barney from How I Met Your Mother says, “When I’m sad, I just stop being sad and be awesome instead!” While funny, it’s a ludicrous concept. ESPECIALLY when you’re talking about depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, or anything similar. What’s worse, these perspectives set you up for defeat, letting it feed into the sadness you already bear, and making you increasingly skeptical that you’ll ever find happiness, or worse that you don’t have it because you do not “deserve” it, that it’s somehow “righteous” that you suffer. It’s horrific, because it causes those already suffering to crumple even further, even though it was likely said out of love and well-meaning (but terribly flawed) support.
So how do you seek happiness, then? There are several ways:
1. Understand how you are suffering and how it works. If you do not understand that some afflictions are beyond your ability to control, then you will continually suffer guilt and shame because of your inability to snap out of it. That extra guilt and shame is the last thing you need to carry in addition to your other burdens. Understand what’s happening to you. Understand what you are able to do, and where your limits are. Read about the experiences of others online who are going through the same thing. Draw from their hard-earned wisdom and insight. In short, know your enemy, as that’s the first step to defeat what’s afflicting you.
2. Seek the understanding of others. There may be family and friends in your life who are well-meaning, yet uneducated in what is afflicting you. These people care for you and very much want you to be happy. But they have likely never gone through what you’re going through. They’ve never encountered it. Or maybe they’re looking at it from their perspective, not yours, so they don’t understand how hard it is, or how it controls your life. For someone who has never experienced depression or other life-controlling afflictions, they may believe it’s just a matter of not being sad (and being awesome instead), or looking on the bright side with your chin up, or counting your blessings, or just “staying strong” and powering through it, as if emotional endurance will get you anywhere when neither your situation or affliction is changing for the better or getting the understanding and care needed for real recovery. These people are your allies, but without understanding what you’re facing, they can inadvertently cause you even more damage and sadness. You NEED these caring people on your side, and you need them to understand so they can give you the support, love, and caring you want from them, and they want to give you. Inform them. Sit down and make it very clear what you need from them and why. If there are reasons why you can’t do this, send them links to articles describing the realities of people suffering from these things, as well as the common misconceptions about them and those who suffer from them. I’ve seen some great examples of this floating around Tumblr. They’re out there.
3. Seek support from those who understand. While my first instinct was to put “seek treatment” as #3, it’s often the case that doing so is a huge step, one that often can’t be made alone. You need a support network of friends and family who understand you and are on your side, as they can give you the encouragement and support you may need to make that jump to seeking treatment.
4. Seek treatment. If what is afflicting you is so great as to throw your life out of balance, leaving you living each day in fear, depression, or similar, then I urge you to seek professional treatment. I do encourage you to spend time researching your options, or asking others who have tried different options. Try to figure out what works best coupled with what will negatively impact your life the least. If you have a counselor aware of your situation, ask them about your options. Those online who are ahead of you may be able to tell you what to expect. Seeking treatment is, paradoxically but understandably, one of the hardest things to do, as it may require emotional vulnerability, in the least that it’s an unavoidable and inescapable confrontation with the fact that you need help because you are seeking help. You need your web of support fully engaged and at your back to take this step past that barrier of fear, as it’s often the only way forward. Keep in mind though that treatment may take many forms, depending on how well you understand what is happening to you. For example, there are some cases where vitamin B difficiency can cause or allow for depression. A heavy supplement of Niacin was able to correct the imbalance. So keep options open, including nutritional analysis, as that’s often overlooked, and may be easier to try than drug therapies.
5. Change your environment if you can. Suffering in these ways usually leaves you extremely emotionally vulnerable. So in the interest of your recovery and well-being, try to alter your environment so you do not experience unnecessary suffering. For example, when getting anon hate on Tumblr, immediately delete it as soon as you realize what it is and turn anon off for a while (that’s usually good advice anyway). Try to avoid what is triggering to you. Whatever it is that’s causing you harm, pain, or suffering, think about whether you have the ability to change anything or remove yourself from that environment. Likewise with those around you. If they can be made to understand how what they are doing is affecting you, and if they are willing to stop or respond, good. Otherwise, remove yourself from their presence if possible.
6. Treat yourself gently. This SHOULD be rolled into #1, but I put it last because it is extremely important, and if you are going to remember anything about this post I want it to be this. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, whatever it is chewing up your life…it is not your fault. Let me say that again: it is NOT your fault. Just as getting a cold is not your fault, sometimes these things happen, and it’s how our bodies and minds respond, usually at a level beyond our ability to control or stop. They’re like quicksand: once you’re stuck, even though going it alone may seem noble and “strong”, it usually just gets you more stuck, and sinking deeper. To get out, you’re going to need the help and caring of others. Though society often teaches us that this is weakness, it is in fact usually the ONLY way to find the strength to escape this suffering. So go easy on yourself. Treat yourself gently. Just as you wouldn’t call upon someone with a broken arm to toughen up and be strong by playing basketball with that arm before it recovers, treat yourself gently as you undergo the treatment and healing you need to get better so your life can return to normalcy.
Remember, for all of you suffering, I love you all, and I’m here if you want to talk with someone about it. And I’m hardly the only one who feels this way. So remember, you’re not alone. There are people who care. And there is ALWAYS hope.
It saddens me to see that we’re so good at getting INTO conflicts, and intensifying them, and pouring fuel on the fire, and retaliating in the name of “justice”, but we seem to have so little skill or inclination to go the other way…
It’s like the only actions we know how to take are to screw those nails in deeper, not loosen them or attempt to remove them. The inflexibility we perceive in the other party only prompts us to greater inflexibility, and before long both sides are so hardened to each other that flexibility no longer exists… And though one could easily just blame that on mutual stubbornness and call it a day, I’m more interested in why that seems to be the only common scenario. I’ve come up with a few possibilities…