Life Theory Collective

the art of living and storytelling.

What Has Torn Us Apart & What Do We Stand For Now?

Life & StoriesAshleigh RaddatzComment

I was going to post about different holiday cultural traditions between Germany and America, but given the mass shooting that happened last night in southern California, I feel this strong urge to sound off on that, and all of the other mass shooting that have taken place in the US in recent years, months, weeks and days.

People may not agree with what I am about to put out there and that’s okay. 

People may choose not to read Life Theory Collective blog any more, and that’s okay too. What’s become the “norm” in America is much bigger than this silly little blog so, I’ll take my chances.

Here is a different perspective, one from an American that is proud to be from such a great country but is also aching for the chaos America has become, the chaos that America has become known for. Here is a perspective from across the world, hearing what the rest of the world has to say about America and seeing how things have changed. Here is a perspective from 40,000 feet, from not being in the thick of it but still close enough to know something has got to change. Here is a perspective from an American that would eventually like to be able to come back home to the states with my kids, but can't bring myself to even consider it for the time being because all of the dissolve of what once known as a country united. 

Less than 24 hours after a mass shooting and what do I see on my Facebook feed. A couple prayers and sympathies to the victims and their families. And a whole lot of political arguments.  How sad is that? We have become so desensitized to mass shootings that instead of expressing how we should come together in such times, we start arguing about who is at fault when clearly, there is more to it than gun control or no gun control. (You can easily research how gun control works well in some countries, i.e. Germany, and how gun ownership rights work well in others, i.e. Switzerland. So, what’s up America? The problem is obviously bigger than that! Same argument, different day, and not a damn thing has changed!)

And now we have yet another mass shooting… And the cycle starts again, the breaking down, the divide of a country, the abhorrent pride that comes with getting to defend your views. The endless talks and resentments because the desire to be right is so strong that you use every opportunity to get on your soap box and preach your side. When none of that shit matters! Because as it stands, the way America is so divided, the way we get torn apart further and further with every shooting, every election, and every other opportunity that presents itself while the rest of the world looks on like “wow, America has really lost its shit”.  That’s freaking embarrassing.

America always stood for so much. America was always the leader and the example. America was always strong. But now we are the country that just tears each other down. Where is the pride in that?

You can blame it on Obama, you can blame it on gun control, and you can blame it on the full moon. But let’s get real. No matter who or what is responsible, when something like a mass shooting happens, America is broken again. Like two rival high schools, it is almost unreal the insults and negativity flung towards one another.

The debates start “Well, if someone had the right to carry, then they could have pulled their gun out and shot them”… “Well, if we were to implement stricter gun control laws, this type of thing wouldn’t happen”

And the craziest part? We are scared of letting refugees in because they might be terrorists.

Real talk. Americans are terrorizing themselves. You should be more afraid of the American citizen next door that feels they need to make a statement, to use their fear as an excuse, so they go and shoot up a place. But instead we focus on fearing refugee seeking safety from their war torn country. Open your eyes! These people that shoot up places are all terrorist no matter their race, religion, gender, or political views.

Instead of coming together and mourning the loss of lives, condemning the sick people that have attacked people in our own country, we get on social media and debate about gun control, conspiracy theories and whatever else we can use to push our political/religious/social views. We take it and run with it because “now is our chance to really change people’s minds, to hear myself talk endlessly about the same thing over and over again while trying to sound smarter than you yet not making a damn difference, while putting down other people on personal levels because they have a difference of opinion and feeding more negativity and fear into my kids so that they can do it just like me when they grow up. Yeah, I got this!”

But the truth is, you’re getting angry at the wrong thing, the wrong people. You’re spending all of your energy on talking talking talking. Actions speak louder than words. Get angry at the assholes that keep doing this. Not at your friend that has a different opinion than you do.

America is so dependent on fear. Fear is rooted so deep in American culture & that is what has torn us apart. We feed off of this fear and we are teaching our children that fear is the only way to live.

White people fear black people, black people fear cops, everyone fears Muslims, Christians fear atheists.

So much fear breeds anger and anger breeds hate and hate breeds violence.

America’s confidence is gone. It’s no longer the land of the free when you can’t even enjoy a movie, send your child to school or go in for a normal day at the office without some psycho possibly coming in and shooting up the place.

And who do we get angry at? We get angry at each other.

What does America stand for now?

How did we get to this point?

And when does it end?

When we use acts of violence as an opportunity to push our political or religious agenda what does that prove? And when we do that, what are we teaching are kids, our future generations? When instead of standing together, showing sympathy for the families that lost their loved ones and anger for the people who commit these atrocious acts, we lash out at each other. Politics, religion, race? How about instead of defining everything with a label, we teach our kids first and foremost that we are human. And it is our responsibility to take care of one another. That if we see someone in need, we help them. When we see a family hurting we go to them and comfort them. When you are afraid, “let your faith be bigger than your fear”. Because there are still good people in this world. And you can be one of them.

Lead by example. Get back to family roots. Love thy neighbor. Do good things. Be honest. Be kind. Be tolerant of others. 

And shut up. You can push your political agenda some other time but not today! Sometimes it’s good just to shut up and be there for the people who are suffering because of the actions of other people.  Just shut up for one day! 

If we take the time to mourn with the victims, maybe we would not so quickly forget. 

I am not saying we should stop voicing what we believe in. I am not saying we should not stand up for what we feel is right. But, what I am saying is we need to start holding ourselves to a higher standard, stop spewing baseless facts, stop flooding the world with more hate, and stop spreading fear. I am saying, that in the process of voicing what we believe in, we can do so without tearing others down. 

Be above the fear driven hate. And if you believe strongly about something, and you expect to see a change, you have to do a hell of a lot more than just talking about it over and over again on social media or at your Thanksgiving dinners. 

Hold yourself to a higher standard.

And maybe if we start expecting better of ourselves it will start teaching our children that we can stand united (as Americans used to).

We can make changes that start within the home. We can make the choice that we will not inspire hate and disdain into our children's hearts. We can change how we speak of entire religions, political parties, races, nationalities, sexual orientations or genders.

If we take responsibility of our own voice and own actions, maybe our children won't have to grow up in an America where gun violence and terrorism has become the norm. 

We should instill compassion, empathy, kindness, respect and responsibility. We can teach our children that it is okay to stand up for what we believe in, to fight for what we feel is right, but we can do so in a way that is not so full of hatred and spite. We can have a more effective and a stronger voice if we make changes with positive actions rather than out of fear.

Children learn what they live. And if we keep on living the way we have, when our kids are grown, I don't want to know fear and hostility they will feel in their hearts. 

So I ask you again...  

What does America stand for now? (fear?)

How did we get to this point? (fear?)

And when does it end? (when we no longer fear?)

I offer up my thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. The victims from yesterday's shooting, the victims from last Friday's shooting, and the victims from the other 353 shootings that have taken place in 2015. 

x, Ash