Monday, December 17, 2007

Violence. What can we do about it?

No one can deny that violence in America is increasing. You don't need to look any further than you local newspaper to confirm this. Discussions on the evening news and in magazines offer suggestions to what can be done, but nothing seems to work. Fingers have been pointed at various institutions that have failed -- our school system, the family, government, social programs -- but little, outside of throwing more money into the system, has been proposed. I think there is a solution and it is easy, simple, and it will work. The solution is called personal responsibility, and it involves a set of values almost as old as time. How does it work and how do I start to do my part? I think each of us has to start with self. Think about some of the terrible crimes reported in the newspaper in the last year. In one of them, witnesses waiting to testify in court, did nothing when a young woman was sexually assaulted. People with cell phones stand at a distance while banks, stores, and businesses are robbed, and do not make that 911 call that could make a difference. During national disasters we revert to a dog-eat-dog mentality where we ignore the cries of others, while an extended hand could pull someone to safety.

The second rung up the ladder toward sanity, is collective responsibility. What do you do when you are in a public meeting and something is proposed that is clearly wrong? Do you speak up or you do the 'safe' thing and hope some other person will express your views. This 'safe' option is rapidly becoming obsolete as more and more people try to express themselves in violent ways that might eventually involve you.

The third options is rather interesting. Why are we in this mess? I think it is mostly because we are allowing ignorant and uninformed people to speak out while we remain silent. When a young woman shot a dangerous and misguided young man in the foyer of a church a few weeks ago, there was an outcry on the Internet concerning her rights to protect the congregation and herself. We have wallowed in so much goofy 'rights issues' that we have come to believe that there is a 'right' to riot, to kill the innocent, to destroy the happiness of individuals, families or communities. This is all done with the distorted idea of protecting the rights of a few. Am I advocating vigilante action? Certainly not, but I am suggesting that we need to aid the police, the courts, and the others whose duty it is to protect us. We can make a difference, and it can only began with us. Do you like what is happening all around you? Maybe it is time for you to speak out.

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