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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/14/16

Why I Don't Want to Be Your Facebook Friend

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If you have "Friended" me on Facebook and are rabidly pro-gun -- that is, if you think any "regulation" or "reform" of gun laws infringes on your rights under the U.S. Bill of Rights, or if you play war games on your computer or reenact war games as a hobby, or if you are a member of a militia, or if you oppose any requirements for gun training and licensing, or if you think it's OK to pack in a church or university or school or shop or theatre or restaurant or nightclub or park, or public space of any kind -- please unfriend me immediately.

If you were a member of U. S. Congress who allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to expire in 2004, these senseless vicious massacres are on your conscience.

If you are a filmmaker or TV or gaming or radio producer who is getting rich by glorifying violence, you are a monstrance.

If you are a weapons manufacturer or head of a corporation that supplies mercenaries to war efforts around the world, you are guilty as hell.

If you hate anyone because of the color of their skin, their sexuality, their gender identity, their place of birth, or their ability, you're much to blame as well.

If you are a politician or candidate spewing hate rhetoric, further inflaming your devotees who have been weaned on such violence and hatred, you are slime.

If you fit in any of these categories, you are not my friend. So let's stop pretending. Please unfriend me now; it's past time.

I stand in solidarity with my LGBTQI, Black, Latino/a/x, differently abled, and Muslim siblings who are simply fighting for their right to be safe, secure, treated equitably, and accepted and respected for who they are -- human beings who deserve no less. And within each of those groups I know there is hatred for the "other." Each of us has to get better at putting ourselves in another's shoes.

We live in a violent society, and it's only getting worse. It seems our public officials like to foster this climate of fear, where the populace remains terrorized and paralyzed, and therefore easier to manipulate. This is the kind of atmosphere that breeds more hatred, more violence, and, truly terrifyingly, ultimately tyranny.

The answer is *not* more policing. It *is*:

* fewer WMD in the hands of anybody-who-wants-'em;
* less violence in our "entertainment" and "education";
* less glorification of warmongers;
* less media attention on the bad guys;
* less nationalism and this insane U.S. presupposition of the country's righteousness, exceptionalism, entitlement, and hegemony;
* more teaching of peace, nonviolent communication, and conflict resolution theories and methods;
* more love, baby, more love! and acceptance and empathy, or at least sympathy toward those who are different from us. We can only learn from them, for heaven's sake.

Being open to learning is one of life's real joys. That's something that's been drilled out of us by the No Child Left Behind mentality. Let's reclaim the joy in learning from others. Let's deliberately put ourselves in new situations, with different companions, and open ourselves to new (nonviolent) ideas. Let's stand up when we see injustice in our own circles. Let's use peer pressure to help stop relatively benign bad behavior before it gets worse. Let's stand together to fight bullies. There is power in numbers, but we have to strategize mindfully and choose our tactics deliberately.

And we must stop looking elsewhere for the guilty parties. They are mostly homegrown.


*I feel compelled to point out that the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, horrific though it was, was not the "deadliest mass murder in U.S. history," as media are calling it. That dubious distinction might actually belong to the December 29, 1890 killings at Wounded Knee, SD. U.S. officials shot and killed at least 150 and as many as 300 Lakota men, women, and children -- many if not most of them unarmed -- and injured dozens more. About 25 soldiers were killed as well, and three dozen wounded by Lakota warriors. And of course all of U.S. history is marred by atrocious instances of violence, much of it perpetrated by the government in the name of democracy and freedom. We have much to overcome.

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Maura Stephens Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Maura Stephens is an independent journalist, educator, and activist whose recent work focuses on environment, human rights, social justice, media, migration, and climate change.

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