A few things have happened lately that have turned my attention to how we, people, regard things. A lot of that depends on how things are presented to us. We don’t normally pay a lot of attention to that. Perhaps we should. For instance, guns, or the unfortunate use of guns, has been in the news lately. As a result, we have a rather large debate going on about the pros and cons of guns. How do we control guns? How can we legislate against guns; should we legislate against guns? Should we concentrate on types of guns that are most harmful?
There is one thing common about all these questions. In all them, the emphasis is on guns. Whether one’s inclination is to condemn guns or defend them, the emphasis is still on guns. The same is true for other issues such as drugs. Both those who profit from drugs and those who are against them concentrate on their existence. I recall the quote from Mother Teresa in which she said she would not attend an anti-war rally but would attend a pro-peace demonstration. Her emphasis wasn’t on the thing to which she objected but rather on its absence. Mother Teresa understood a difference in approach that may be subtle but is very important. If one wants to be rid of something, it is not a good idea to concentrate on its existence.
Our society does this in the case of peace. We say we want peace but our emphasis as a society is on war. We think of war as an effective means of ridding ourselves of things we don’t want—a war or drugs or a war on poverty are some examples. That is the way such issues are presented to us. This is the way we should approach them, or so we are told. Are we not giving ourselves a problem by concentrating on a means we say we don’t want in order to achieve an end we say we do want? And are we not extending the condition of war in our culture by such practice?
The solution lies in a change of mindset. We have to start concentrating on what we want rather than that of which we are trying to rid ourselves.