Don't let societal ills become game of 'Pete and Repeat'


As members of the human species we have a tendency to keep our minds as busy as the revolving door at Folsom Prison. Take, for example, getting a song or jingle stuck in your mind that simply won’t go away. I’m still mindlessly repeating one of my former favorite tunes, “L.A. Freeway.” What will it take to change the tune — a trip to “New York, New York?”

As humans, we do have the ability to change the endless reel of thoughts that are rarely quieted by any humans other than the most disciplined monks and shamans. However, that doesn’t mean we have to live our lives out like the old joke of Pete and Repeat.

You remember how it goes: “Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left?”

The answer of course is, “Repeat,” and the joke goes on eternally.

Unfortunately, the events last week that occurred with the Atlanta church shootings don’t deserve to be mentioned alongside a joke or even be called events. What happened there was no accident. It was cold, calculated, brutal, racist murder. The human being whose name will not be spoken consciously chose to do what he did. He actually had a whole hour to sit with his victims and mull over what thoughts he would put into action. He deliberately followed through on those thoughts he chose.

As humans we do this every moment of our lives. We deliberately choose the thoughts that play out and define our lives. We can choose to turn on the television and watch propaganda disguised as news or we can turn the dial in our cars and choose to emulate the thoughts of hate radio. We can also take the time to carefully monitor our thoughts and trend toward the positive, which in turn can make both our lives and the lives of others that much better.

As a society we seem to be practicing far more of the former and very little of the latter. There exists no dictum of human thought processes that require Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Muslims, blacks and whites, or especially, males and females to hate each other. Where would we be as a species if that last thought prevailed?

The more humans think …“I hate all (fill in the blank)”… the more hatred that gets spewed onto society. I, for one, am sick of it. I don’t want to hear this negativity anymore because its toxicity has the ability to destroy the human race. The only way to avoid negativity is to choose how I think and act upon my own thoughts.

The thought that came to my mind following the massacre at a very historical church in a very historical city in the Deep South last week was a very bad thought.

I thought to myself, “Well, they may have lost the Civil War, but it appears they won the battle.”

I immediately did what my own mind was capable of and changed that thought to those of Martin Luther King’s, “We shall overcome.”

As a society and as a species, will we overcome? Will Kent Hrbek give up hunting and fishing and return as the Minnesota Twins’ first baseman? I guess anything’s possible but it first has to be thought into existence.

If every human could reach one small moment of enlightenment about how they think about each other, why, maybe even the Minnesota Vikings could win a Super Bowl before hell freezes over, not after. My final thought is the Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, will soon be wearing a Super Bowl ring. Meanwhile Adrian Peterson will require at least seven.

I dedicate this column to a close friend who recognized that our differing philosophy of dealing with adversity was causing a small rift in our relationship. With no input from me, he decided to deliberately choose the thoughts that would enhance and stabilize our friendship forever. For that I am deeply grateful.


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