A View on Newtown from CEWQtown of the CEWQNIVERSE
by Clyde E. Ward cewqniverse.com
December 16, 2012 10:58 p.m.
The recent tragic killing of innocent children and adults with the unnecessary loss of life in Newtown, Connecticut has been the focal point of many issues, including gun-control laws, mental health and the Media. President Barack Obama spoke at a prayer vigil where the tragedies occurred.
Yes, we are excessively bombarded with unrealistic images by the Media, via movies, videos, video-games (stand-alone and computer-generated), Radio and even the once believed to be unbiased, unsensationalized, unslanted, fact-filled media outlet known as the NEWS.
Although it is being said by some responders to the Morgan Freeman ‘Hoax’ commentary regarding the Newtown tragedy, that the glamorization of violence in and by our media is to blame; there was a time when our communities in the U.S. of A. took responsibility and utilized the inert power we posses[ed] as Parents, older Siblings, Relatives, Professionals (i.e., Pastors, Teachers, etc.) to show more compassion and concern by enforcing something as ‘simple’ as the media-implemented commercial, which came on our black & white and color television sets, with the question, “It’s 10 p.m.; Do you know where your children are?”.
Back when I was eight or nine years old I had a serious plan to run away from home. I had a roof over my head, never went hungry, was always clothed, bathed, went to church religiously every Sunday and Wednesday, attended bible-study at another church, had a membership with the Y.M.C.A. and Cub Scouts.
My Mother worked very hard and received little pay and a ‘treat’ for us would be getting a cheeseburger, french fries and a milkshake at McDonald’s, a pot-pie or going to the Drive-In theatre. I even had the privilege of having my Maternal Grandmother living with us. Now where on Earth did I get the silly idea of running away from home? I got it from watching “The Little Rascals”. Yep, I remember the scene where one of the Little Rascal was running away from home with a few belongings tied in a cloth to a stick lurched over his shoulder.
Luckily for me, I grew up in a neighborhood (Washington Courts Housing Projects in Utica, NY), that was truly a “village” that helped to raise us children who lived in it. I can see it as plain as day: I was at the Hemstrought’s Bakery across from Potter School and planning to head out across route-12 on my quest to “run away”, when two of the older youth from the “projects” grabbed me an told me I wasn’t running away to anywhere, before they took me home to my Mother.
The two older youth were Benjamin “Benny” Walker and Hen Lee Brown. To this very day I thank them for being concerned and “saving” me from making what could have been a tragic mistake on my part. Somewhere in my little mind, I had gotten the idea that I was not loved and was going to run off to be where my Father was.
My Brother Lawrence (Larry) and friends, in our little village used to walk and run all over the railroad tracks and go out to the Utica Marsh. I even rode my bicycle almost eighteen miles to Rome, NY when I was approximately ten years old. But, little did I know the perils of what could’ve happened to me had it not been for the intervention and I had acted on my decision and illusion.
We must simplify our lives once more in order to prioritize the things that should mean the most to us. Not the material things that never really make us happy; but our children, families and friends: ourselves.
The promise made that allowed us to allow us to have a “Chicken in every pot…” somehow appears to have gotten infused by ‘MEsigner’-steroids and allowed us to have a t.v. set in every room, smart-phones in every pocket/pocketbook, virtual realities in every mind and parts bigger than and detached from the whole.
Author Chris Hedges in his book entitled, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle vividly describes how the masses have allowed themselves to be programmed by the phenomenon known as the “idiot-box” and worship ‘celebrity’ and entertainment to the point of not being able to distinguish illusion from reality. It’s real bad when some people prefer virtual-reality games and reality-t.v. shows to actual reality. Can you remember when Family used to all sit down at the kitchen or dining-room table together and eat? Or sit down together in the living-room watching the same program on the same t.v.?
The new question might be more like, “It’s here & now: Do you know who your children are and how they are doing?” When was the last time you hugged someone, shook their hand or asked the heartfelt question, “How are you today?”
We are all we’ve got, but some of us don’t seem to like ourselves so much and we end up taking it out on others who look like us or not. The old story of the guy who gets chewed out at work by his boss, who goes home and takes it out on his Wife; who then takes it out on the children and so on, is alive and well. Guess what folks? It’s not a story or an illusion: It’s for real.
I’m sure we’ll never know, but what “if” something as simple as asking someone, “How are you today?” could’ve prevented the events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut? What we do have is the here & now armed with hindsight. We’ve got to start somewhere. Why not let it be from ‘within’.
Hey, we can’t keep using the excuse that we can’t be there with you Johnny or Joan [because we’ve got to got to work or on a date or whatever excuse is used to avoid spending good quality Family-time together], without dire consequences.
We’ve got to take back our power to be concerned and let each other know that we care. We must shake the shackles of control and reclaim the responsible action we’ve relinquished to the detached-reality we’ve found ourselves in.
It’s been sad that it takes the use of more muscles to form a frown than a smile. It’s amazing the power a smile has. There are times when I see people on the street or grocery store and they’re so frowned up and mean-looking that it makes me feel bad and frown up. Sometimes I’m not aware of this until I come across someone who smiles at me and changes my frown into a smile. I’m shocked and feel bad for allowing my emotions to be affected in such a way. I then smile even more to try to wipe the thought of the frown forced on me away.
With the help of Utica, NY Mayor-for-Life, Edward Hanna, Utica was known as the “Handshake City”. In my own very humble opinion, as a pre-teen and teen growing up during those times, it appeared to be less societal violence. Of course, Utica, NY and the rest of America still had and will continue to have its non-Utopian problems.
I was recently experiencing some problems with some people who basically had me backed into a corner like a tiger. How did I avoid unleashing the rage I felt upon the perpetrators? I
1) received a telephone call from one of my best friends in the world (Tina Chapman) who helped defuse me with the concern in her voice, 2) I prayed and meditated, 3) I went for a run and 4) I sang.
I focused on things that made me smile; like genuinely asking someone, “How are you today?” it manifested itself through my vocal chords in a melody. I sang about the holidays while visualizing those bad times as “holy days”, which I refused to allow someone else to ruin and I sang about asking someone how they were doing.
One of the many great things for certain my Mother did was instill the awareness of options in me. It was her way or [almost] the highway. There are many ways to handle rage without hurting others, which include the power of song & music in a positive way and the nonexpensive seemingly lost art known as communicating with each other.
My Father left Utica, NY when I was three years old. Another great thing she did was to allow me to visit my Father. She never kept me away from him. She told me the good and bad about their failed relationship and let me make my own decisions regarding my dealings with him. I didn’t start calling my Father, “Dad” until I was twenty-five years old and out of the U.S. Army. We’ve had a great relationship for many decades now. I am truly fortunate to have been born from the parents I came from.
What can we do to prevent future mass shootings? I believe that part of the solution to this ongoing problem of detachment and uncontrolled rage is as simple as us simplifying our lives and spending more quality time with each other. People need to know others care and that they are important. I’m not saying it will be easy; just that part of the solution is so simple and close, that we’d all be bitten if it was a snake.
The Sandy Hook Elementary school and the community of Newton, Connecticut have my deepest sympathy for their loss. The basic principle of a timeless nature, which was preached and taught so long ago, still rings true: “Love one another.” Yes, we must change, indeed. “It’s here & now: Do you know who your children/Loved ones are and how they are doing? How Are You Today?” It is true that many of us are not doing good and would rather not reveal it, but we could at least genuinely ask, as it just might help to brighten someone’s day by knowing someone cares enough to ask.