My husband and I still own our businesses up north — two dry cleaning and laundry plants, located about 60 miles apart, in rural, west central Iowa. Our sons manage the businesses now. Our oldest son stepped into the shoes of my husband in our hometown location, and our younger son runs the plant in a mid-sized, college town an hour away. Recently our younger son received a call from the police. It was a courtesy call, telling him he should remain “alert” because a past employee was making threats and acting unstable. So, the plant went on “lockdown,” something we have never done in our 37 years in business.Our oldest daughter is a family law attorney in Kansas City, Missouri. She spends most of her days guiding one spouse or another out of a marriage they no longer want to be a part of. She too, has been threatened, usually by the ex-spouse of a client, eager to shift blame for a failed marriage to someone other than themselves. But purely by coincidence, on the same day our son was put on alert by the police, our daughter waited at a stop sign, just a block away from her home, and made eye contact with a particularly angry ex-spouse of a current client. He waved his middle finger as she drove by with her children in the back seat, and his menacing leer said, “Now I know where you live.”
My words to my kids were to be aware, but not afraid. “Don’t let these people dominate your thoughts or your life.” But inside, my heart was pounding. I feared for their safety.
A man walks into a church in Texas during a Sunday worship service, and guns down nearly every person in the building. Concert-goers in Las Vegas are ambushed by a sniper using weapons created specifically to kill multiple targets with lightning speed, and he succeeds. Bicyclists in New York, enjoying a leisurely ride on a Tuesday afternoon, are mowed down by a man in a truck.
When did it become customary to settle domestic frustrations, race or religious differences, or even just curious urges to kill, with such violence? What motivates a human being to pick up a gun and reign terror and death over the innocent and unsuspecting? And what can we do about it? These stories of bloodshed, at the hands of our neighbors, are becoming so commonplace, it would feel spookily silent if too much time elapsed before the story of a killing rampage broke in the news. If a month passed between tragedies would we become suspicious of an even bigger act of terror being planned in the lull?
I want the answers to my own questions. I crave a cure for this epidemic of violence. I want my son and my daughter to be able to go to work in the morning, or pull into the garage at the end of the day, without the need to look over their shoulder with suspicion. I yearn for life in this country of freedom and opportunity to be released from the confines of fear. Because each day that we are skittish about attending a public event, or apprehensive about where we go to school, to work, to worship, or even to a movie, we have lost precious time in our life to fear.
I have an idea. It may not be the answer, but it could be the seed of a solution. With attention and nurturing, it could grow, and proliferate into a lifestyle, and from this new way of life, a cohesive existence could blossom.
Throughout my life, when I wanted to make a change, whether it was to alter my diet, my dress-size, my attitude or something else, I would post a reminder of the goal at eye level. With these words of inspiration tacked to my refrigerator or computer screen, my nightstand or my cell phone, it’s harder to forget my intention or stray from the goal. The following words by Brendon Burchard could easily be the impetus that allows us to break away from the confines of fear. They are words that might inspire us to light the candle of peace in our own life and then pass the small torch of illumination to another. “Oh, how the world today needs such simple reminders: Be kind. Treat all people with respect. Let go of hate and let others live their lives in peace.”
What if, one day we catch the latest headline, scrolling across the TV screen, or pinging on our phone, and it was four simple words: There’s peace on Earth.
Posting words on my refrigerator may not be the solution, but it’s a start. Reminding myself of such simple concepts as kindness and respect aren’t trivial. Indeed, they are necessary because some place along the line we dropped the ball of respect for human life, and each day we watch it roll further down the alley of hate and intolerance. Someone needs to pick it up, dust off the dirt of violence and wash it clean with a fresh coat of dignity. I’m in the game. Join me.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.