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Thoughts on the Half-Mast Flag

I'm sitting across from my twenty-year-old daughter in an overpriced café in Athens, Georgia. She is holding onto a coffee cup with both hands, her painted nails peeling. She is tired, but content.

I ask her how life is. She’s happy, but shares some minor conflicts in her life. Everything from confirming her major, to boyfriend and other relationship issues.

“Is it no wonder we have these horrific tragedies when we have differences with the people we love?”

It seems it will never stop. Las Vegas. New York. A small church in Texas.

More than our flags are at half-mast.

There is no doubt that a violent flaw is weaving itself in our American culture. It’s insidious. It’s like the monster under the bed, only it’s real. It harms people in tangible, dark ways. Can we find a way to disarm it?

In my mind’s eye, I see a young Harry Potter, cloak in the wind, waving his wand and saying, “Insidious disappeareous!”

I ask Rachel the question to see what her young mind processes, what wisdom her youth and innocence holds, “why do you think we have violence in our society?”

“Oh, I know that one,” she sits up straight and puts her hand in the air as if answering a question in class. “It’s the social environment. We learned that in my Juvenile Delinquency class!”

She stated policy changes may help. So, will making laws which protect the vulnerable, creating a wider safety net, or adding tougher standards on purchasing guns, have a positive effect on the society and environment?

Maybe. Obviously, there is no magic spell. But we considered some questions:

  • What shapes our desires?

  • What happens when we compare ourselves with others?

  • How do we personally settle issues in our lives?

  • Does our culture invite compassion and peace?

  • What control do we have in cultivating a non-violent environment in our society?

Could each of us look internally at our own relationships and our own hearts, and try to model peace, forgiveness, and acceptance?

There is no magic, no vaccine to make things better instantly. But what about being okay with who we are in our own skin? And acknowledging that different people aren’t worse, or better, they’re just not shaped the way our creator shaped us.

Could we wrap the different, the sad, the other, the hurt, in a cloak of awareness, openness, and compassion? Could we turn the “them” into the “us”?

Could that change the color and type of the thread permeating our American society? Could it help keep our flags flying high?

I don’t know. But I know I will


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