Nineteen children and two teachers dead! Some 1,300 years of life extinguished in minutes by a deranged teenager. It is hard for me to equate the loss of life and the anguish thrust upon their families and, by extension, our society. While my wife and I do not live in Uvalde, Texas, we experience heartfelt sadness just the same.
My way of processing deep sadness is to write and share my thoughts.
What are we doing as a society to breed killers?
I adhere to the belief we each create our own view of reality by what we regularly hold in our thoughts and the actions we take in life.
Who among us is willing to stand up and claim responsibility for the violence within our country?
Consider the violence that we, as a society, have introduced into the lives of children and young adults:
We give our youngsters toy guns and warring video games that encourage the killing of "opposing forces" with no negative consequences for "killing" other than a “winning” digital score.
We take our older children away from their families and friends, put them in boots, and teach them to kill other human beings. Then, we bring them back and expect them to live "normal" lives.
There is a case to be made that we’ve been doing it to ourselves?
It also seems too easy to simply blame guns, the police, politicians, race relations, or even the NRA.
But, in the midst of these realities and so many tragedies, what is "The High Road"?
Just who is our Country's current day Mother Teresa?
While religions promote peace, compassion, and love, the world has been plagued for centuries by religious wars. Millions have died over religious rightness.
While having lived many years through an ongoing barrage of life’s joys and sorrows, I am grateful for my own, and our country’s, resilience. As Americans, our ability to consistently see and strive for a greater good is remarkable. As world leaders, we continuously find ways to look beyond blemishes to regain footing and strive for a better future.
There have been and will continue to be some folks who walk a life of opposing paths. In addition to some fantastic leaders, I met many “opposers” while serving in corporate settings. For whatever reason, these “opposers” were men (primarily) who had to rule, to be boss. Other opposers were simply contrary, no matter the direction, they marched to some unknown drummer.
Some were struggling with wounded or disillusioned thoughts. Some hurting from disease or mental issues. Some struggling with a lack of self-esteem—each in some way grappling with his own sense of reality.
Unfortunately, out in the world, a very small percentage of these same men have inflicted serious harm on themselves, their families, and others. Some of these same men have taken life from others or committed suicide. Each time I hear of a senseless killing, I grieve for lives cut short and families in mourning.
My reality is shattered by senseless killings.
On a personal note, the best I can do is to come to grips with right and wrong and to believe what helps people is right and what hurts people is wrong. Within that, I re-right myself to live accordingly. I consciously choose to continue to see the good and make a positive difference by writing and sharing.
While our U.S. Constitution has guided the Great America Experiment, it does not deal directly with “societal diseases” such as mental illness or domestic terrorism. Prior to 2022, internal U.S. insurrections, although painful, were isolated events associated with racism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, or mental illness.
Today’s painful events are possibly the result of people hurting with personal issues, or the consequences of political leaders stoking the underbelly of society. Or, it could be the result of some who negatively encourage those who never learned, or have lost sight of right from wrong, (as defined by our society’s moral code.) As a country, we are challenged to address and take action against a perceived threats or anti-American minorities.
We lived through a recent attack on our democracy at the Capitol building, our governmental leaders continue to experience threats. Even today, many of them continue to stoke discord while others remain in denial. And, within their rigidness, the killing of iinnocent people (and children) continues.
Based on years of study and worldwide comparisons, greater gun control is an obvious answer that continues to challenge and unfortunately, elude agreement among our congressional law makers. Even though it has been successful in other countries.
While waiting for government action there are a host of possible actions to consider to reduce senseless killings. As a country, it is my view that we must:
1. Substantially strengthen our ability to identify and really support mentally challenged Americans who struggle with life and living every day. Consider what we, as a country, have done in the past with Deinstitutionalization for the sake of saving money!
2. Greatly expand efforts to identify and address hate or anti-American groups to gain greater understanding of their mission(s), what motivates them, and to identify moderation strategies.
3. Rethink the impact of youth and teenage experience with video games that teach and breed killing as a sport and without consequences other than winning the game by "killing” “opponents.”
4. Make bias, prejudice, and racism within our society wrong. As Americans we must again identify strategies to set a new example of inclusiveness and acceptance of all differences, for ourselves and the world.
5. Clearly present and encourage greater understanding of what is “right” behavior. This speaks directly to the Golden Rule, what most or all religions and billions agree with, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” How can we strengthen the Golden Rule, elevate positive behavior, and minimize wrong behavior?
6. Strengthen societal morality. This speaks directly to restoring mutual respect when interacting with others. How can we gain a foothold on a strengthened or new moral reality?
If nothing else, it is the recognition we have some really troubled souls living among us and it is truly an opportunity to seek a greater good and take sincere and purposeful action to mitigate negative behaviors in our communities and especially for future generations.