Don’t kill. This is an obvious piece of what makes communities work. It is a not-so-little thing that makes a difference. When the massive shooting happened in Las Vegas, I said I couldn’t figure out how to write about “don’t kill,” and that’s still true. It’s also still true that “don’t kill” is on the original list of 100 things that can change the world.
We can start using “kill” in a universal sense to include actions like eating meat (does that count as killing?). We’ve also learned that plants react to being cut (as well as to sounds) so eating vegetables isn’t completely violence-free. Just sayin’. There are euthanasia, the death penalty, and other major discussion points related to “don’t kill.”
But in this post today, I’m defining “don’t kill”as simply one person killing another. We’ve recently witnessed at least two unexpected, and, so far, unexplained, mass shootings. There was the aforementioned violence in Las Vegas that was the initial impetus for this conversation. Five hundred or so people were injured and 58 killed in what was apparently a shooting spree that happened just because the gunman could. How do we respond to that? Then soon after, there was the Baptist church shooting in Texas.
An immediate response was a call to change gun laws, but that’s not the primary focus of our discussion here. The crucial point I want to discuss here is how do we personally react to anger and respond to violence in others — or in ourselves.
Why does this make a difference? I understand that you probably don’t have a direct connection to extreme violence. But think about violence just for a moment. Who I am and how I behave, who you are, and who we are together are the only places to begin mitigating violence. When we are less violent, even in our thoughts, the world is that much more peaceful. It is the positive chaos theory at work that began Spirit Moxie. And this goes back, I think, to our discussions of righteousness manifest in racial, class, and gender inequalities.
More relevantly, this take on “don’t kill” leads to discussions we haven’t had yet about how we respond to, or even think about, situations that don’t go our way. Anger? Greed?Frustration? And what of the things of which you are afraid? Are your thoughts violent? How do you react out of fear mentally as well as physically? What is safe? What violent response is fueled by alcohol or drugs? What violence begins through simply a need to feel important, to be in charge, or megalomania?
The true call to us all is to learn the whys and wherefores of our own reactions. This is where peace, non-violence, and an easier time all the way around begins. There are well known starting points for pursuing this:
- Almost any meditation.
- Deliberately concentrating on your breathing. (Try it now. Relax. Take a deep breath. Your stomach should expand on this one. Hold for at least a count of three. How does your body feel when expanded? Release slowly. Repeat as you have time.)
- The writings of Martha Beck.
- “The Work of Byron Katie” which is completely based on our relationship with our thoughts.
Share below what you have found and what methods work for you as you reduce violence, physical and mental, in yourself and in others.
On a recent trip I was lying on the floor waiting for a group meditation to begin. I’d snagged a pillow and a blanket. Perfect. Suddenly a soft voice said, “There’s a spider or something in your hair.” I felt a light touch and turned to look. Sure enough. A perfect dime-sized brown spider was on the pillow. Slim, brown fingers gently flicked it into a cupped hand, and I heard steps walking away to release it outside.
A lot of words for not having anything to say about “don’t kill.” But may we always deal with each other, and creation, as gently as the person who removed the spider.