Our nation is shocked and grief-stricken. It’s time to harness those emotions (before they fade) and do something about the violence that’s so pervasive.
First, on the individual level. A wise blogger I follow, yogini Lori Lavender Luz, wrote of “big peace” and “small peace.” She tells this story:
A child asked at bedtime, “Mommy, why is there war? Why can’t there be peace in the world?”
The mother replied, “Well, to have peace in the world we need peace in our country.
To have peace in our country, we must have peace in our city.
To have peace in our city, we need peace in our neighborhood.
To have peace in our neighborhood, we must have peace in our home.
To have peace in our homes, we must have peace in our hearts.”
Peace begins within us. Can we soften our own hearts, our words, our actions? Can we instill loving feelings and actions within our children? Can we promote peace? Lori has a beautiful Buddhist meditation on peace we can all do on behalf of humanity, HERE. I’m going to do it as often as I remember. Other things we can do to promote internal peace: instead of grousing at the actions of other drivers, why not bless them instead? Instead of yelling, raising our voices in anger, take a breath and come up with a calmer, more peaceful response to frustrations. No more hostility.
Stop supporting violent media images. I saw data that said kids are exposed to 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence before they leave elementary school, just on television. Do we think this has no impact on how they develop? How about forbidding kids from watching violent TV shows and movies, and not viewing them ourselves? And turning off angry, “hot talk” radio. No more watching angry white men on TV. Make your home a place of peace.
Work for gun control. There’s no need for private citizens to own assault weapons. Or an arsenal. Let’s get these assault weapons out of the hands of our neighbors and less accessible to those who would do us harm. The 2nd amendment is more than 200 years old and doesn’t apply to our world today. It’s ridiculous, really, because it refers to the right to have a MUSKET in order to form a militia. Um. The National Guard is already formed. Today, we have nuclear weapons–does that mean average citizens have a right to them? Can we limit the purchase of ammunition? Let’s get real–and understand what our 21st century world is about and what we need to do to make it a better one.
Hold media responsible for violent content. I’m not sure how we can turn back the hands of time–kids today are accustomed to the excitement of violence on big and small screens. But somehow, we need to get hold of this culture of violence that’s been growing for decades. Entertainment companies of all kinds need to lead the way, because if they do not, then government may do it for them. TV, film, games—all of them. And warning labels are just not enough. Step up, Hollywood and entertainment execs, step up. You’ve been mighty quiet, lately.
Parent our children. It’s up to parents to determine what images children are exposed to. What toys, what games. What the child does online. Yes, yes, it’s hard. Working parents, latchkey kids, peer pressure. It doesn’t matter. Children are being massacred and we can’t afford to let another single child die. Maybe you think your child “can handle it,” but you know what? This nation can’t handle it. Not any more.
Don’t let this story die. I’ve been listening to Piers Morgan, Dr. Drew and other media personalities express their outrage at our nation’s denial in the most vehement of ways and I applaud that. Just as pitbull Nancy Grace never let go of the Natalie Holloway story, pundits need to keep this story firmly in the public eye, even if ratings show audiences getting sick of it. A solution is needed and all heads are required. And votes. Don’t let this fade into the background like Columbine, the theatre shootings and the Amish children’s murder. Because it will. Life goes on and we pack our outrage away for another time, and then bring it out as if it were all shiny and new. But it’s not…and we can’t afford another time.
Contact your legislators. Let them know how you feel, that we’ve had enough, lost enough lives. Don’t stop at candlelight vigils, take practical action. Sign petitions. Talk about this. Write letters to the editor. Band PTAs together. This is not the time sit back complacently with your glass of wine and pontificate. The time for action is now.
Insist on funding for mental health programs. They were cut by Reagan and others, and we are reaping what those bad decisions sowed. The uptick in mental health issues here means that the system is failing. “Get guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable” is a hard thing to enforce. The Connecticut shooter got hold of his mother’s guns, for one and for two, who determines whether a gun buyer is stable or not? This is a thorny issue crying out for a solution. Smarter minds than I should weigh in.
Do one thing every week to help ensure this never happens again. Yes, it is complicated. And we are all so busy. But all those dead children, those dead teacher, all those murdered people deserve better than our simply moving on with our lives.
So those are my thoughts. What are yours?