Bullies, Bullets, and Blame

by Diana Rankin

I yelled at my cat today. It was a sharp piercing wail that surprised both of us. Seconds later one of my favorite tea mugs fell off the counter and crashed against the hardwood, smattering and scattering pieces of hardened clay across the floor.

Both LilyCat and I were so stunned at my outbreak we stopped and stared at the shattered mug and in that eerie and charged moment of silence it struck me how my angry outbreak had nothing to do with my cat. It had everything to do with my own frustration inappropriately taken out on her. The cat doesn’t have the power to make me angry. No one does—whether feline or human. It is my anger and I must own it, and I also must own how my personal anger contributes to the greater atmosphere that brings energy to a Jared Lee Loughner, a young man in Tuscon, Arizona who fired 31 shots from a semiautomatic pistol into a crowd. My angry outburst scared my cat; Loughner’s killed six people, including a 9-year old child and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Our anger certainly is different in the degrees, but my nonsensical anger does help to form the energy pattern of a Loguhner’s murderous rage.

Politicians and political pundits have been quick to point fingers of blame against each other for the Tucson tragedy, but they have neglected to see that three fingers are pointing back. Certainly some politicians and pundits, opportunists, and talk-show hosts are bullies who have waged a war of angry words, and certainly some of the rhetoric is filled with such hateful fury it makes me cringe. And, yes, I do believe these bullies have contributed to an atmosphere of divisiveness that spawns wrath and a sense of entitlement that if you do not believe as I do than I have the right to spew anger at you and take out my rage on your person. But also I believe that I too must shoulder some of the responsibility for the Tucson tragedy—as we all must.

We are not responsible for pulling the trigger, but we are responsible for feeding the insanity of murderous rage. Every time we lose our temper, we fuel the insanity of murderous rage. Every time we refuse to take responsibility for our own pent-up stresses and frustrations and blame the other for our emotions and actions, we fuel the insanity of murderous rage. Every time we make—or listen to—hate-filled speeches, we fuel the insanity of rage. Every time we watch a television show or movie that honors violence, we fuel the insanity of murderous rage. Every time we engage in a thought, deed, or action of anger, we fuel the insanity of murderous rage.

There is a lot of anger in our country. It is not the first time this country has been filled with anger and divisiveness. We knew anger during the Revolution War, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War movement against the Vietnam War, to name just a few. Perhaps as a nation we will not grow pass the anger that erupts whenever we have difficult times, but perhaps, just perhaps we will come to understand our personal contribution to the murderous rage that brought forth a Jared Lee Loughner, and in the understanding of this we will be better able to see our responsibility to be watchful of our actions that may be perceived by the other as bullying, be aware of the words that may feel like bullets to the other’s heart, and lay the blame of our anger where it belongs—at our own doorstep.

I would like to tell you I will never again yell at my cat, never again bully her, but that would be untruthful. There will come another day when I live in unawareness of the build-up of my own stresses and frustrations and hear myself scream when LilyCat gets my negative attention. What I will tell you is that in the awareness of knowing I am capable of loosing my temper, I grow in mindfulness of my own anger, anger that contributes to the atmosphere where a murderous rage can take hold. It is in the accepting of my personal contribution to the greater whole that I feel the depth of my responsibility to do my best to keep my own heart peaceful and my actions pure.

©2011 Diana Rankin

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