Maintaining Peace in a Volatile Environment – Charleston Tragedy


The heinous and horrific act of violence perpetrated on the Charleston community is unconscionable. It is now obvious this was motivated by a racist individual. He killed nine people plummeting their families and community into total despair simply because he felt it was justifiable to take the lives of people based upon their skin color.

What do we do in an aftermath of such proportions? I want to first list things we shouldn’t do at a time like this before offering the solutions of what we should concentrate on accomplishing.

We must remember that the actions of a few do not speak or represent the whole. Each criminal must be held responsible for their own actions and not permit them to hold society hostage as being responsible for their actions. For example, a woman who drives her car into a lake and drowns her four children does not represent or speak for all mothers. A man who kills his wife does not speak for all husbands. A gang of certain ethnicity committing atrocities do not speak for the entire ethnic group. A young white man driven by racial hatred murdering nine black people in a church does not speak for all white people.

The community of Charleston does not need pundits, radio talk show hosts, and activists flying in from all over the country speaking inflammatory rhetoric. We need to be more responsible and realize our concern should be about healing the wounds and not pushing an agenda at the expense of stability.

We have a choice to make in America. Permit these situations to be exploited by self-interest groups and activists looking to pimp the circumstance into a financial windfall and fame, thus creating division and deepening racial divides? Or, are we going to come together and overcome evil with good?

What needs to happen?

The families of the victims and their community need support, comfort, and an outpouring of love from all of us. This is not the hour for screaming in the streets and inciting violence ruining businesses and property. It is keeping it in focus – others do not have to pay for one person’s decision. That person is held accountable and not a whole race, religion, or ethnicity. We must operate with a degree of civility and reasoning without the knee-jerk reactions that are stirred by those who have hidden agendas.

Are their cultural environments conducive to bad behavior?

Of course there is. Racial, religious, and ethnic intolerance is found in every culture and nation of the world to some degree. Things grow because there is soil to sustain it. If you change the soil then what is produced changes. Changing the soil through proper education and the instilling of morals will create a culture of valuing each other which in turn produces a bedrock for societal cohesiveness. A fish thrives in water because it is an environment that contains everything it needs to survive. Take the fish out of its environment and it dies. Will racism and all forms of bigotry be totally eradicated? No, but we can have an environment that creates little to no possibility for growth, thus isolating their perspectives and ideologies beyond the moat of reasoning. This will translate into loss of influence and opportunity for these who propagate such intolerable thinking leading to despicable behavior.

The importance of education  is indisputable in its value to constructing a generation. Information becomes the hinge that swings the door of opportunity to a land of progress. However, as with all things in life, this demands balance, because when educating people and yet forgetting the instruction of morals is inadvertently creating  a danger to national and international stability. Think about Nazi Germany as an example. It was the land of some of the most educated minds and technology such as Einstein and Mercedes-Benz and yet it produced a Hitler. Educators today must realize the importance of serving students information and increasing their knowledge, but also assisting them in developing their character, which is necessary in being a positive contributor to society.

Steve Johnson wrote

The ideal that schools should produce people who are both smart and good has a venerable tradition in the United States. Most children in 19th century America learned their ABC’s from McGuffey Readers, which were replete with stories of honesty, self-reliance, and courage. The Readers’ author, William H. McGuffey, was a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Virginia. But by the early 20th century, schools were beginning to lose their comfort with such moral indoctrination. As America became a more pluralistic society, it was harder to come up with a shared notion of good behavior. Given the lack of agreement, moral education, it was argued, was best left to the individual child’s family and religious institution. By the late 1970s, character development had all but disappeared as a goal of American public schools.

My contention is that there is a common meeting ground for all people to agree on in a pluralistic society. It will also promote moral behavior that reaches across all ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious lines. There is a shared ethic that can be the guiding principle for all. I’m using the above example concerning the United States, but it is applicable for all peoples or all nations of the earth. What is this common denominator that can erase the tension of offense and conflict of personal philosophy and religious slants? It is none other than the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.

What if parents along with the educators of every nation adopted this philosophy of life? Surely all would agree with it and it would be the bridge and connection that would provide a seamless uninterrupted flow of unity becoming a powerful force in affecting the next generation. Think about it! What if children and youth are being taught to filter every interaction with another human being through the golden rule before they act? It becomes the basis of life and what they build their life upon and the moral compass that provides concrete direction for their lives. Can you imagine a child on the playground who emotionally becomes riled at another classmate, but before hitting the other, the voice of instruction sounds in their head “treat others the way you want to be treated.” If the child persists beyond the conscience of restraint that has been taught since birth and assisted by educators, and hits the other, the educator can immediately ask the perpetrator “is that how you want to be treated?” Use it as a teaching moment before the punishment is meted out.

Would this be hard to implement?

Not at all! Let’s unify and begin a media blitzing campaign through all available media outlets and take advantage of this small world created by technology. We can use the golden rule principle which is found in every major religion, culture, and the constitutions of nations. They all have it in one form or another. All that is needed is a network of people to get the job done – are you one of them?

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