Thursday, July 21, 2016

It has to be said

Sometimes I sleep.  Sometimes I think.  This morning was a combination of both.  My heart weighs heavy with the all too frequent out pouring of violence.  The deaths of innocents have seemingly brought about the death of innocence.  We are bombarded each day by the media describing the inhumanity of man.  Police officers killed.  Races profiled.  Terrorist attacks.  The most despicable deeds performed in the name of vengeance, retribution, or worse yet, religious fervor.  And we wring our hands and lament, “My God, the world is a terrible place.” 
The world is NOT a terrible place.  There are terrible people.  And as trite as it seems, the musical “South Pacific” has the reason set to song.  You have to be carefully taught.  
You've got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You've got to be taught

From year to year,

It's got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You've got to be carefully taught!
Teach—a verb—an action word.  We teach by our actions.  Tell someone something, they might believe it.  Show someone something, it might matter.  Model the action and it is observed, and internalized, and repeated.  Edmund Burke is credited with the quotation, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  By our inactivity, we teach fear.  By our acceptance of evil, we breed hatred.  By our shoulder shrugs and desire to crawl in a hole and ignore the world, we allow. 
But what?  What should we do?  What can I do?  As difficult the question, the answer is amazingly simple.  Do good.  Be good.  CELEBRATE GOOD!  MODEL GOOD!!!! 
We raise millions of dollars each year to help the helpless, feed the starving, and clothe the naked.  We do good.  We teach our children that one rule is “golden”.  We do good.  We help our neighbors and care for the sick.  We do good.  Put your mouth where your money is.  TEACH those around you.  MODEL what you want to see in the world.  But for all that is holy, Don’t “do nothing.” 
I used to play a game.  “What do you want them to say at your funeral?”  My answer, selfishly, for years has been, “I miss him.”  I think I’ll change the answer.  My mother used to say it.  My wife says it frequently.  Two of the most important women in my life can’t be wrong.  Here’s what I want said at my funeral.  “You done good!”