Monday, September 21, 2015
I spend many a sleepless night worrying about things I have no control over. I probably need to see a therapist! The questions that I wrestle with usually begin with the word “WHY?”
I’ve finally had to stop watching the nightly news reports that recite the day’s atrocities. It’s like there’s a bewildering underground of sociopaths out there trying to outdo one another in evil acts. Weren’t we all born with a conscience to do the right thing? Evidently not.
I understand natural disasters. Tragic as they may be, the things that happen when Mother Nature goes on a rampage—earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and fires—seem to bring out the best in people. People rise to the occasion, comfort one another, help their neighbors and look for solutions.
It is always heartwarming to hear or read of massive acts of kindness going on right in our neighborhood. A recent Register Guard article by Mark Baker on World War II veterans returning special message flags to Japanese families was great. It left me in tears. Tears of joy. The verbal picture of former (aging) U.S. soldiers ministering to their former enemies with respect, compassion and humility was priceless.
“A Mission of Peace” described the mission of Eugene residents Rex Ziak and his wife Keiko, to return the “good luck flags” to the families of dead Japanese soldiers from whom the flags were taken. It also captures the spirit of now-elderly WWII veterans as they returned some of the flags that have been found. Our veterans were humble and the recipients grateful. Their mission is on-going.
In this computer age of isolationism, good stuff still happens. So-called Crowdfunding websites are especially impressive in getting the word out that someone needs help with medical bills or other necessities. I liken them to the Bible’s loaves and fishes story where a few morsels became enough to feed 5,000 people. Ten dollars can easily become $10,000 when word spreads that help is needed.
But more often than not, the everyday news that we receive is not good news. It’s not even bad news. It’s awful news. Killing news. Hateful actions by deeply disturbed people living secret lives and plotting unthinkable revenge on good people.
You would think that I’d be used to such atrocities. After all, I grew up in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the USA. But that was the 1950s. An era of innocence. I don’t remember my parents ever talking about people killing people for the sake of killing.
I do remember my parents talking about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping that happened long before I was born. Charles Lindbergh was a celebrity in 1927 after he flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic. In 1932, he and his wife Anne discovered their 20-month-old son missing. The kidnapper used a ladder to climb up to the boy’s room, leaving muddy footprints on the floor and a $50,000 ransom note. The ante was later upped to $70,000. It was paid and the child found dead near the Lindbergh mansion.
The entire country went into mourning. Parents held their children close and 15 years later, kids were still being warned to stay near home because “There are kidnappers out there.” And there still are.
I don’t know. Maybe today’s stuff has always gone on but just not on this 21st century scale. Here are some questions that keep me awake at night asking “Why?”
Why are homicide rates surging across the country in 2015? In Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis, rates are up 33%.
Why do so many people have grudges that are so heavy and deep that they can’t walk away from them?
Why are individuals killing their friends, family and loved ones (including children!) then killing themselves? What’s the point?
Why do people have to go on Facebook and humiliate someone that they dislike because they’re too fat, too pretty, too popular or whatever? How does that make the hater feel better?
Why does it seem like everyone carries a gun? I know people who have permits and wear their guns to the grocery store. Can’t be too careful, you know!
Why do some people think that laws don’t apply to them? Daily I see people talking or texting while driving. Duh. They are accidents (and tickets) waiting to happen.
Why do people loot and burn the neighborhoods they live in during a riot? Where are they and their children going to sleep afterwards?
Why do we blame the police for doing their job? And what is their job? It’s to uphold the law. Many people break the law and then blame the police for catching them in the act. Strange thinking.
Why are there bad cops? I don’t know. Bad apples are in every job.
Why are most cops good? Again, I don't know. But I do know that I’m grateful for them!
Why do people prefer to get high on drugs instead of life?
Why do on-going racial, religious, power-hungry wars never cease?
Why don’t we all respect one another unless or until it’s proven that someone isn’t deserving of our respect?
As you can see, I have no answers to these questions. In fact, I have more questions. However, I’m just a clueless columnist preaching to the choir and trying to maintain my sanity. Here is what I do know:
Daily I try to look for the good and praise it while I remember that laughter is good therapy. So is practicing the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” To sleep at night I pray and put my concerns in God’s hands.
Now I’m going to go have a long talk with my sister the psychologist!
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.