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Reflecting upon responsible speech

I asked my staff members to do an “in-seat reflection” exercise last week. I think this could serve as a blog entry to stimulate the reader’s thoughts as well.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/crisis-in-france-is-seen-as-sign-of-chronic-ills/ar-AA8bm1B is a fascinating story to me. Please read it.

Hollywood and all the “free expression” folks have jumped upon the “I am Charlie” bandwagons. If you watched the recent Golden Globes, you saw that first hand… they collectively seemed to be against censorship of any kind… but they are also against all bullies as well (one award winner even referenced a young transsexual person who committed suicide the prior week in response to perceived harassment, et al). My perception of that mention: On some level, we were reminded that we are to blame for that horrific end to a promising life because we are less open minded than they (those who write and act about causes in Hollywood) may be…

If you would personally investigate the “Charlie Hebdo” publication, you would learn it is an atheist magazine that attacks all that is good – and especially organized religion. For example, in addition to caricatures of Muhammad, their satirical drawings have depicted Catholic nuns masturbating, the Pope having sex, and so on. It is all very funny to the intellectuals who embrace secularism. While I do not condone the violence, the story helps me to understand where some folks may have just had enough bullying by people hiding behind the “free speech” moniker.

Imagine a student in one of our local high schools draws insulting pictures of someone who looks or thinks or acts differently than they do… and then blatantly spreads them about the school, publishes them on Facebook, and so on. As Americans we certainly understand and value freedom of speech – but realize that this behavior goes beyond the levels of decency and into bullying and resultant hurt, separation, isolation and marginalization.And then we will reactively and collectively become intensely angered whenever the “different” youth – who has been victim to this orchestrated harassment – returns to school with a weapon, and so on… We all stop laughing at someone else’s expense – and then to start to point fingers, and blame the weapons, lack of civility, and the brokenness of our family values. It’s our current DNA.

Hollywood wants to have it both ways. Maybe they can because they actually may be so much more enlightened than any of us could possibly be… but common sense and reasonability know enough is far beyond enough when bullying exists. Read the Pope’s thoughts on this subject here. Food for thought??

For the reflection piece, I requested my staff to read the initial story again and make some substitutions. I asked them to think of Paris being the Shenango Valley, with Farrell and Western Sharon as the poor areas where the youth are becoming disenfranchised from obtaining the American Dream, and seemingly lacking hope they can access the comforts and opportunities of those existing throughout the rest of the valley. I asked them to question how so many of us are externally judging by our own standards whenever these despaired youth turn to crime and drug use and sales, and so on.

For example, what does sentence sound like when you substitute the local young men rather than the poor Muslims?? Nearly everyone agreed the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo attacks — including a heightened security response by France and its allies —is a distraction from a larger problem: a sense of increasing social and economic marginalization that many cited as a root cause of young people drifting toward extremism.

Or maybe this part of the article… “The suburbs were left behind in government planning, so they became segregated communities,” he explained. Fear of the authorities was already omnipresent, reflected in crude antipolice graffiti on many of the concrete housing complexes, which residents call “les cages de poulet,” or chicken coops.

Further, and maybe most importantly, what can I/ we actually do to contribute to the creation of the community that we all say we seek? … or do we just wait for our own violent and chaotic events to occur that will sell more newspapers and lead to more finger pointing?

In the end, we cannot possibly begin to bring about change in the world – or even our small community – until we first begin to be open to changing ourselves.

As I asked my co-worker Natalie last week relative to the Transfiguration; ”Just how might the presence of God shine and be observed through me in my interactions with others today?”

Prince of Peace Center

Prince of Peace Center
502 Darr Avenue, Farrell, PA 16121
Phone: (724) 346-5777| Fax: (724) 346-1440

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