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Friday, August 3, 2012

A Call For Kindness

by Pete Codella (bio)

Sometimes it’s difficult to remain optimistic. I had already planned to write about the teenage boys who bullied Karen Klein, the bus monitor in Greece, New York, and then the Aurora, Colorado shootings occurred — two national stories in the past month with pretty negative underpinnings.

Can you imagine taking your young child or teenager to a movie and experiencing what those people in Colorado experienced?

How would you feel if your twelve year-old son spoke to a grandma the way those boys in New York did? Or what if that had happened to your grandmother?

I’m concerned that in our reality TV culture, where rude, immature and sometimes vindictive behavior is consumed as entertainment, and with Hollywood movies glamorizing violence, we’re sending too many conflicting messages, particularly to our youth.

Even for adults, can you imagine how confusing it would be to be in a movie theater with people dressed as various Batman characters, with movies playing in other theaters on the other side of the wall where you can hear gun scenes playing out, to have someone in a bullet-proof vest and gas mask show up in front of your theater, throw a gas canister then begin shooting people?

I’m not suggesting I have an answer. Do we put juveniles in prison? Do we outlaw private citizen gun ownership? Do we secure and install metal detectors in every public space?

I recently visited The Foundation for a Better Life, where I enjoyed going through their outdoor billboard designs intended to remind people of great values exemplified by extraordinary people, and even remind ordinary people of the greatness within.

There are certainly positive stories we could discuss that would counterbalance, if not outweigh, the two negative national stories I’ve mentioned. But I’m more troubled and emotionally drawn to the despicable bullying of Klein and outrageous random shooting of innocent people in Aurora.

I wish we could all be more kind. I think Jesus Christ, above all that he taught and still represents, lived a life of kindness and love. We could also point to many other individuals who teach and embody respect, kindness and love.

So I guess I’ll end this with a request that each of us try harder to make a difference in the lives of the people with whom we come in contact; that we first strive for kindness and understanding. And that we behave in such a way as to make crystal clear to our children, families and everyone who knows us, the value we assign to respect and love of our fellow brothers and sisters.

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