Never again.

On November 9 to November 10, 1938, in an incident known as “Kristallnacht”, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. Citizens did this. The authorities stood aside and did nothing. This was the beginning of the Holocaust.

On November 9, 2016, America woke to the news that a man named Donald Trump has been elected president. This is a person who has advocated violence against immigrants, women, homosexuals, and people who are disabled. This is a person who encourages his followers to take matters into their own hands and be physically violent against anyone they see as weaker than them. Namely – anyone who is not a straight white male. That is a lot of people.

America was founded on the premise of freedom and liberty for all. The words on the Statue of Liberty are “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We say that we welcome immigrants – those who are fleeing hardship and oppression. We call ourselves a melting pot. We believe that we are made better by our diversity.

Our Pledge of Allegiance is “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Right now, we aren’t one nation. We are divided. And there isn’t liberty or justice for all. Right now is a truly scary time to be in America. He isn’t in office yet – that will be in January. But now, his followers may feel they are justified in getting started in their own idea of ethnic cleansing.

Yes, we have problems. Yes, we need change. But there has to be a way other than violence and civil war. We must be better than that.

In spite of all the advances that minorities have made, there are plenty of those who were in power who feel disenfranchised. They feel that because civil rights have been assured for others, that they have lost theirs. There is room enough for us all.

In the French Revolution, over 40,000 people were murdered – citizens killing citizens, in the course of a year.

In Rwanda, over a million people were slaughtered – citizens killing citizens, in the course of a month.

Let this not happen here in America.

Let peace rain down on us, with the mercy and grace of God. Let cooler heads prevail. May God enter into every heart and hold back every hand raised for violence. May we get through this time of change, together.

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Speaking up.

I overheard two regulars talking in the library today. They are both white men over 50. To be honest, only one was talking – the other was listening.

He was talking about the police officer who pulled a gun on unarmed teenagers at the pool party. He was sympathizing with the police officer, saying that he had attended two suicides that morning – and went into graphic detail about one of them. I was considering telling him to be mindful of where he was at that point alone. Small children do not need to hear brutal details like this. Heck – I don’t need to hear them.

But what made me speak up was that he kept going on about the officer, and the kids, saying that they were wild and unparented.

I leaned in and said “That still does not give him the right to pull a gun on unarmed teenagers.”

He agreed – but as I was walking away he then said to his companion that he would have shot them.

I continued to walk away. There are only so many battles to be had.

A few minutes later he caught up with me at the front desk. So many people think of us as a sympathetic ear there. We have to listen – right? Public servant, and all. We are trapped behind the desk. We can’t defend ourselves.

He said that so many of these kids weren’t being raised by parents, but by their grandparents. He is generalizing, and stereotyping. He doesn’t know these kids or what their home life is like.

I repeated – that still does not give him the right to pull a gun on them.

He said “You know what I would have done? I would have pulled a billy club on them!”

I said “That is unfortunate.” and walked away from the desk. He is unreasonable and it isn’t worth continuing the discussion with someone who speaks like this.

Note that in front of me he changed what he would have done from shooting them to striking them with a billy club.

As I was walking away, he again repeated that the officer had attended two suicides that morning. I did not respond.

Whether that is true or not – does seeing someone kill himself give another person a right to kill?

To be silent to injustice is to condone it. Will he change because of what I said? Doubtful. But that wasn’t the point. It would be great if he changed, but if I didn’t speak up I would have been part of the problem. I don’t feel qualified to have long debates on any hot topics. I do better with writing than speaking. But I had to – because to me, his words were the same as hitting someone in the face. I have to speak up, or the violence will continue. The poison that he was spewing would spread. I cannot allow this to happen in front of me.

Cure for violence

We’ve had too many examples of people becoming violent and randomly killing people. This isn’t something that is going to go away unless we make it go away. It is a weed that takes many years to grow. We have the ability to eradicate it in the future. Here are some of my ideas about a cure for violence. Some of this I wrote a few years ago, after a rash of these occurrences.

Just like with treating toddlers -ignore the bad behavior and reward the good. Don’t publicize the name of the criminal, the perpetrator. Lets’ not have a payoff.

Notice and acknowledge people. Everybody needs to know that they count. When you see someone who is a loner, make contact with them. Befriend them. It isn’t easy. But it is essential. It is part of this “love your neighbor” thing we are supposed to do.

Remove, discourage violence in the media. Games and movies that depict violence should not be bought. They should not be made, but we can’t control that. Take away the demand, then the supply will go away. I’m not about making laws for these things. Make it illegal and you’ve made it taboo. Make it taboo and you’ve made it desirable. Kids want what they can’t have. Rather, we need to watch what we consume.

We need to make it socially unacceptable for people to play war in their spare time. Especially kids, who don’t have the maturity to understand reality from unreality. How can you know what is real when you never see it? “Reality TV” isn’t. It is over the top, scripted, and fake, much like our celebrities. We have created a society of artifice, where we celebrate the un-real.

We need healthy outlets for emotions. We bottle them up and suppress our real emotions. Everything is supposed to be fine in our society, and this just isn’t normal. We don’t have a way to process pain. We need that. It has to get out.

I’m not advocating gun control. I’m advocating people control.

Is it that we have more violence these days, or that we are just so connected that we can’t help but see it? And why don’t we see a balance of “good” stories? Surely just as much good is happening.