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Violence, the ‘human condition,’ and ways we can respond

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Carr
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Chaplain

We can’t help but notice these days that our flags seem to be at half-mast much too often.

Unfortunately, we live in a broken world.

We’re fighting terrorism and racism, and there’s violence in our streets—and around the world—every day.

Our news cycle is filled with reminders that something is wrong in our national and international societies, and to think that this doesn’t profoundly impact us as Airmen is naïve.

During the chapel’s recent interfaith prayer service, one Airman said, “I do take the hardships and recent tragedies the world is facing very personally.”

We all may be feeling the impact of recent events, and when we drive past a flag at half-mast as a result of violence, it’s a reminder that evil exists … that something is wrong. This has been referred to simply as the “human condition,” which manifests itself in injustice, anger, violence, intolerance and hate.

Even with all of this, I do think there is hope for our world. The question, of course, is what will be our response to these events and how can we help others respond? There are four ways people generally respond to these issues.


Stick our heads in the sand and hope things get better

This, of course, is not a good option. Looking the other way or pretending we don’t have serious problems to overcome won’t bear any fruit. Kicking the can down the street will only perpetuate the problem.


Come to grips with the brokenness of our world and come to grips with our own brokenness

We know that our world is broken, but we should also recognize that we are broken as well.

As Mark Twain said, “We’re all like the moon. We all have our dark side.”

We all have flaws, biases, and areas of weakness, and these all contribute to the “human condition.” So while we need to address the world’s problems, we also need to take an honest look in the mirror and see our own need to change.


Decide to make a difference personally, educationally, morally, politically and spiritually, for your good, but also for the good of others

Isn’t this what the Green Dot program is encouraging us to do? Getting involved and making a difference like the University of Florida football player who recently stopped a rape.

I also love the story of basketball player Tyrus Thomas who inserted himself into the situation between upset citizens and the police in Baton Rouge—he stood as a peace-maker between them.


Faith-based solutions

Those who are people of faith may conclude that these issues are beyond human solutions alone. So we turn to prayer and petition God for help—our own version of “Help from Above.” If you’ve seen the movie “Woodlawn,” you know the story of how prayer helped bring about a marvelous measure of racial reconciliation in the 1960s in Birmingham, Alabama. God can be as near as our hearts and our prayers.

So while many things may not be in our direct control, there are several ways we can respond to these ongoing tragedies and toxic situations. We can start with our own understanding and perceptions, and then work to influence and support those around us.

Each personal decision affects our society collectively, and maybe we think we can journey this path just fine by ourselves. However, please know that the chapel staff is here for you and your Airmen for counseling and to serve as a sounding board for any struggles they may face or if they’re just feeling down about the world around them.

One of our goals is to help navigate the emotional and spiritual health of all our Airmen and help them to be resilient and hopeful.

May our Airmen of faith realize that even though we live in a broken world, help from above is near, hope is real, and change can happen.

May our flags fly high in the days to come.