Eye for an Eye?

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

First I would love to share this video with you, to give you some context as to what got my mind going for today’s post.

I wrote this when I share it on my FB wall…

I watched this video with so many emotions. first, imagining losing Sullivan, at that age, or any of my children.. and in the way those parents did.
Then huge admiration and support for how she chose to honor her grief and son. Not by inciting more violence, not by arming herself, giving in to fear that so many want us to grab on to, not by seeking revenge and hate. No, she gave the gift of her son’s joy in triathlon to other kids. She gave the gift of running to herself and others. A nurturing, a love, a forward moving kind of grief that will not send us all backwards. This is the kind of answer we MUST lean towards in response to violent people, and violent tragedies. We CAN shift the momentum.

So here’s the thing.  What if we all pressed on and just spread exponentially more goodness and love in the face of violent acts?  Like a virus?!  What if we REFUSED to buy in to the keeping ourselves safe with threats of violence toward any potential offender, and instead carried ourselves with peace, expecting the best and most likely, odds on, getting the best from people all around us?  What if we found ways to forgive and move forward and not feel like it is our job to make sure someone pays be returning the violence ourselves,  for the damage they have caused- thus making us no better than them?   I wonder how different the world would be raising generations in a climate like this.

My mom was beaten bloody many times by my step dad, a few stood out more than others because I was a witness, but usually we were hiding, afraid and ashamed that we couldn’t help.  He broke her ribs while she was like 8 or 9months pregnant with my brother.  He beat her and chased her to empty his rage onto her face while I was still just in 5th grade.  It continued through the years middle school and early high school.  In and out of our lives he went, but the control he had was undeniable.  There were ok times, even good times, because as kids you just wanted it all to be ok.  You wanted peace. You wanted smiles and ‘normal’.  We held onto those times, and braced for the next…

I felt hate, pure unadulterated hate. The,  if I ever had a gun I would shoot him in the face at least once kind of rage.  Instead of doing that, I got straight A’s. I adored my teachers, found friends parents to show me how it should be.  I tried to protect my mom, but how?  Called the cops so many times.. the same cops.  Small town. Imagine.  Who knew? who didn’t know what stories we hid at school?   The system would let him go every time because she couldn’t bring herself to testify.  Surely he would kill her if she did.  I so desperately wanted to kill him for her, for us.

Our family never had a gun.  If we had, she might have been dead.  If we had, we all might have been dead.  If we had, I’m pretty sure I would have become a murderer.  I would have changed my life in an instant for a moment of pain relief.  Maybe my mom would have killed him, though she just doesn’t have that kind of bone in her body.  Then we could have been orphans.  And why not just kill him in another way? well that would have been scary, too personal, too much danger, too much planning, too sadistic and evil, and we weren’t that.  But a gun would be just SO easy. pull the trigger. No touching. No moment to take it back.  It’s done. I could maybe even pretend I didn’t do it.  Literally no blood on my hands.   I had an imaginary line in my head.  Like IF he ever touched me or my sister or brother.. That would be it, not sure if it meant i’d actually try to find a gun since we didn’t have one? How many kids right now are in this same situation?  But have no connection to anything good, like friends, school, and for me I even relied heavily on my horse as a major source of comfort and release.

 You see, there is no scenario where a gun anywhere would have been any sort of answer whatsoever for our family. I GET to have an opinion on this that many do not understand.  I honestly believe I would not be here typing this now from this place in my life with a family I adore and a stance on violence that has changed over time.

I never would have been given the chance to forgive the person that was a dad of sorts to me.  The person who is my brother’s father.  Major flaws for sure, major major mistakes, major demons we will never understand, but did he deserve to die for them?  by my hand?   I don’t even know where he is or care, but do know his life is missing a lot that it could have been.  He isn’t thriving, but has made a life I’m sure and I truly hope hasn’t continued the pattern that he had with us.  I’m sure somehow he has maybe even made positive impacts on people’s lives I never knew.

Then there is the story of my dad, my actual father. Living and working in Alaska, a place he loved, in a remote area close to an amazing river outside of Fairbanks.  One day a stranger came around harassing a neighbor and her cats, menacing with 2 shotguns.  A loner from Chicago.  My dad got him away from her and all we know is she heard maybe 8 shots.  No One ever saw my dad again.  Cops checked on his cabin, found blood at the door and appearing in footprints in the snow as they walked.  The stranger still at his cabin, said he had skinned a moose and they let him go.  He killed 10 more people over the next two weeks, including an unborn child, dumping many of the bodies in the river.  His final murder was a cop in the helicopter that found him.   They responded by opening fire and killing him in his boat.  I found out about his death when I was 10, my grandpa, his dad, flew to our home in Nebraska for a visit, and to tell us.  How does someone my age and my sisters age even begin to comprehend what that meant?  How it happened?  What did I feel?  I can hardly remember.  I remember feeling maybe glad the guy was stopped and dead?  But I’m not sure.  Would I want him alive in jail right now? Still not sure.  Once you don’t have to make a decision it is hard to know what you would REALLY feel.  Of course, he was a psycopath, the rare kind of person of movie horror.  He wasn’t representative of real life dangers.  Of course I do think living in Alaska, one might really consider having a gun for protection from the off people who gravitate to the isolation up there,  but then I still don’t know if I would? maybe from wildlife?  It’s still not cut and dry to me.  My dad was a peaceful person.  He photographed wildlife, he didn’t shoot them.  He tried to reason with a crazy person, lost his life for it. And I will not blame him for not having his own weapon and killing the madman himself.  Who really knows how that scenario would have gone.

So when I type in random posts that I don’t like violence, I despise guns, how easy and detached they are to use, how their only purpose is to end a life when used.  It’s a feeling that has just grown over time, and I think there are far superior answers to violence than by feeling the need to carry and stash em “for my protection”, know that it comes from a place of I would have if I could have once upon a time.  I also know what it is like to have family killed by with a gun by a deranged sociopath.   Do not bash me for being peaceful after all of this.  Do not argue with me because I refuse to arm up and be ready twitchy gun finger to kill someone who may be a threat.  I just don’t think most of us really understand what it means.  Not sure at the end of this post what my point is.  It’s not like the world is reading.  Maybe it’s just to maybe consider loving more, reacting with fear, revenge and hate less.  Finding a calm place inside.  To allow each of us their journey to this place, because essentially we all have our own stories that shape how we feel.  I would love to push against all things guns, but it is not realistic.  I can only hope to maybe start to help people shift their hearts so that the fascination and feeling they are necessary to survival begins to fade, before they are faced with the ultimate loss or choice or mistake.

It took me days to hit publish on this.  Deleting, rewording. Trying not to offend anyone.  But it’s my story.  A part of it and that’s all.  A perspective to maybe help when you get into a debate with anyone on any number of subjects.  We all have a story that shapes where we are, were and are heading.  Not always a right or a wrong.

Wishing you a day of peace, empathy, and the space to tell your story.

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