The violence that erupted in Arizona yesterday was caused by one unfortunate soul with a gun in his hand. He bears the weight of action. He caused death, pain and fear. To that end, he is a terrorist. An American terrorist.
We, however, all of us, individually and collectively bear another weight. We are, collectively, Atlas, holding the weight of the world on our shoulders. Whenever we say “I could just shoot him/her.” Whenever we say “just shoot me.” When we buy our children video games with violent content. When we reach out toward one another with mal intent. When we watch movies that have the main entertainment value of offering up violence that doesn’t tear our clothes, but leaves onscreen images in shreds. We are bearing the weight of the world on our shoulders.
When we waste precious time in our lives deriding another. When our gossip is spiteful. When we go out of our way to tell someone that they are not living up to our standards. When we punish ourselves for things we have done and said. When we pump the rap-beat vitriol of “artists” like Kanye West into our ears. We become Atlas.
It is time for Americans to step beyond. In our homes, in our communities, in our country. It is time to step beyond the violent imagery. The angry words. The tearing down of each other. The weight has become too heavy to bear.
We must hold ourselves and others with compassion. We must seek to understand and open our minds to ideas and controversy without the vile hatred that we bring so readily to the table. We need to keep our passion, but lose our intolerance. Like Atlas, we are people of tremendous strength and possibility. Like the arrogant king, we are constantly looking to trick someone else into carrying our burden.