Dec 19, 2012

Collective Pride

I keep my political leanings to myself but I will share at least this much; on occasion I turn on the radio and listen to a political radio show and argue with the host in my car. They irritate the crap out of me. Those are the ones who are either far right or far left.

 I will circle back in a minute.

 I wrote a post about the horrific tragedy in Connecticut and decided to not post it. It was understated and emotional. Like the vast majority of America, I was beyond shocked and spent Friday afternoon crying in front of the television. Nothing I say could match the intense emotion of how I feel. So I chose to grieve.

 A year or two ago I met a woman with a heavy German accent. She told me she grew up in a village outside of Munich. I mentioned I'd been through Munich to small village called Dachau. She looked chagrined. It was a concentration camp during WWII. Nothing was written in English except one phrase, "Those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it." Very little was said about the atrocities of the camp yet the land seemed to remember it well. The grief soaked upward into me. Although the sun was bright that day, there was a heaviness in the air I could not shake or explain. I sobbed.

"We don't talk about it," the woman told me. She had explained that her father was a soldier during the war and died when he was 92. He never mentioned the war. Thinking of the phrase outside Dachau, I asked why nobody talks about it. "Shame," she said simply. She was finished discussing it but I understood. It was national shame. Collective culpability.She wasn't born yet when Germany declared war against the world and acted upon a personal vendetta against the Jewish population. Yet it was still her country, her parents and friends who allowed their country to follow the will of one evil man. Our country has its own shame. We have internment camps of the Japanese and others during WWII. We have slavery. Yet I believe that, as a nation, we have made it a practice to learn from our past so we don't repeat it.

Our schools and community resources have plans in place to address the unthinkable acts of school shootings because of one April day in Colorado. In the aftermath of the horrific events of Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, the media has been on fire with different social agendas. The news stations with far leaning radio hosts have much to say and fingers pointing. Public policies will be tweaked, school boards will talk, parents will hug their children. It's background noise for the grieving yet it is the most beautiful sound in a country built on the premise of wanting a better world for our children. Horrible and unthinkable acts happen but we continue to be shocked and aggrieved by them. We never accept these events as acceptable. We keep talking. We keep fighting for change.

 It doesn't bring those sweet children or their courageous protectors back but by our outrage and action grows a collective courage. With our eyes wide open, our fists swinging, shame has nowhere to grow. I may tire of the radio hosts and their far right or left leanings but with both sides taking stands while the rest of us stand somewhere along the spectrum, we will rarely, if ever, be a country full of collective shame.

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