Every time I sit at my computer to begin to write something gossip column-ish, I hit a roadblock. How can I, on this Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, write about something light, trivial, funny or even made up when my thoughts keep coming back to the shootings that happened this past week? Which shooting? Yes, how horrible that one would have to clarify which shooting or shootings. But that is where we are at.
At this time, more than 30 people have died in three separate mass shootings this last week. And that does not include a shooting at a Chicago playground which no one is talking about, only because no one was killed.
Read those words again: Playground, only because no one was killed.
You might be thinking that I am going to launch into an opinion of either one side or another, either more gun control or not. But I am not. Not that I don’t have an opinion, but because that is not my role. Also for the very reason that, in my humble opinion, in order to fix this crisis, we need less divisiveness and more coming together to reason. This should not be a political issue. It is an us, as in you and me, issue.
It is well past the time that we all take a deep look within to bring into the light those things that are creating this shooting culture, this hate culture, that has been incubating in our country. If we cannot identify and agree on these things and then that take action to rectify them, we will just continue along in this sickness. A bandage might help, but it will only keep the infection from seeping out for a while. It won’t heal the infection.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there was an in-depth study done on the life histories of mass shooters in the United States from 1966 to present time. This study has fleshed out four commonalities of the shooters: early childhood trauma and exposure to violence, a crisis point in the weeks or months leading up to the incident, studying the actions of other shooters, and means to carry out their plans.
What can this mean for us? How about starting out by taking a close look at childhood trauma and exposure to violence? Personally. In our own homes. What are we allowing our kids to view, listen to or play at a young age? And then being the parent or family member that draws a hard line and says no. Even to our own inconvenience.
Next, not being afraid to hold someone up when they may be in crisis. As uncomfortable as it may be, stand up to injustices that could propel a person into a crisis. Be a listening ear when a person is hurting. Taking time to reach out and care. We need to care.
Do you know someone becoming obsessed with these shooters? Then the saying, “see something, say something” should come into play. There have been shootings that have been averted because of people like you and me saying something, even when it was difficult. We are fortunate to live in a place where people know each other. An uneasy feeling doesn’t necessarily need to become a call to 911, instead we can make a phone call directly to a person that can intervene or help.
And finally, that last commonality of mass shooters: access to guns. What is the hard work that we must do as a community, as a country, as a society to address this?
Let us come together and reason. For the sake of all, let us lay down politics and talk it out. We cannot go on like this.