Friday, April 18, 2014

From Sadness Comes Great Courage and Purpose

Unless you have been out of the country or live in a complete vacuum, you no doubt have heard of the recent terrors wrought on people of the Kansas City area. 

For several weeks, a phantom shooter has been targeting vehicles on some of the more traveled highways across western Missouri and eastern Kansas.  Approximately twenty incidents have happened, making drivers who use the highways experience at least high anxiety as they went to work.  Police and other law enforcement agencies worked together to find the shooter and possible copy cats.  They believe at least twelve of the incidents are linked.  There is sufficient evidence to support an arrest and arraignment of a suspect for nine of them.  He is currently in jail with a million dollar bond -- cash only.

In the midst of all this craziness, a shooter opened fire at two Jewish facilities last Sunday afternoon.  When the probable shooter was arrested that afternoon, he yelled anti-Semitic slurs and hailed Hitler as he was put into the police car.  These two incidents have been labeled as hate crimes.  A no brainer, really. 

As a young college student, I remember praying that our world could become more ecumenical.  Over the years I've felt we were making progress internationally.  There are inter-faith councils.  Priests and Rabbis talk with each other.  People attend each others celebrations where possible.

My ex and I sent two of our three children to preschool at the Jewish Community Center when it was still in Kansas City, Missouri.  Several of their teachers took university classes from my ex.  (My daughter then spent three years of her elementary education in a Catholic school.)   My wishes for a more ecumenical world sometimes seems to be close at hand.  Then the Arabs and Jews will go at it again.  Or, horror of horrors, the radical Muslims will strike out at someone.  In Africa, Christians and Muslims alike, have been killing each other.  One step forward, two steps back.

The killings at the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish nursing home actually killed three Christians, not Jews.  Today, a Memorial Service was held by Jewish people honoring the fallen Christians.  They are also grieving one more attack on themselves.  Christians, Muslims and Jews all joined together for the service today.  Voices were heard to say we will all just grow stronger despite these types of attacks.  Hear, hear.

But while the participants turn sadness into courage and purpose, the psychologist in me feels the need to say:  Let's spend some time, some dollars, some effort trying to figure out why such hate and psychosis grows inside the individuals who perpetrate such crimes.  What are we doing that keeps different races and religions from growing together and melding into one greater nation?  One greater world?  How can a man in his seventies have been able to live in this beautiful country all these years and still fester with hate that was spawned from a war fought when he was a child?  How can a young black man live in such turmoil that he needs to drive around the city breaking out windows, making holes in cars, shooting individuals and just plain scaring people?  When we get these and similar questions answered, then we may be able to communicate with each other.  Once we are able to tell each other that this or that behavior makes me feel bad or hurts my feelings, perhaps we will see the humanness in each other.  When nobody is labeled as racist or anti-Semitic or any other negative label for speaking truths, maybe we can begin to love and trust each other.

I hurt personally this weekend for many people from my past -- the three doctors who took care of by children, my OB-GYN, my University of Kansas adviser, many of my children's teachers, my former neighbors on Holmes road, etc.  How can such lovely, intelligent, gifted individuals be so hated?  How can we, after all the progress we have made in racial matters, still be breeding isolates who lash out in anger and hate?

The world has come a long way in answer to my request from God.  We still have a long way to go.  But that Memorial Service today, where at least three major religious groups came together, brings hope that we may some day be able to bring universal sadness to joy.

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