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Preventing Future Tragedies

Over the coming weeks and months there will be a great deal of public outcry to our governmental leaders. Outrage will reign and public sentiment will be divided amongst those who see solutions in stricter gun control and those who do not. There will be discussions about how public schools need greater protection and some lip service paid to how access to mental health services needs to be ensured to those most in need. Two weeks from now, this tragedy will be little more than a horrible memory to those not directly affected. In the end, very little if anything will change for the better. How then do we prevent further senseless acts of violence from occurring?

My answer is a cliché. The only viable solution I can see is that we need to earnestly foster and expand our communities. We need groups and organizations that develop a sense of belonging for everyone. We need investment in common goals. We need to collectively give a damn that someone in our neighborhood is suffering.  In the words of John Lennon, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” –  Walt Kelly

I am the most liberal person I know and I do not believe that anything government can create will prevent school/church/shopping mall shootings from occurring. Those serving our country take an oath to support and defend against all enemies, “foreign and domestic.”  For those in Newton, Connecticut, the enemy lived among them.

The most basic of human needs is safety. We are a progressively neurotic society. Unfortunately, “neuroses” got a bad rap. Freud intended for neurotic behavior to describe anything irrational a person does to promote a sense of well being. Collectively, we have a host of superstitions, illusions, and  distractions that provide a false sense of security. We “knock on wood”, force grandma to give up her knitting needles at airport security, and we continue to chase our own little versions of the American Dream.

Let’s collectively acknowledge: This Shit Is Not Working.

My religious friends tell me that they are seeing signs of the coming of the end. My history buff friends tell me about the fall of Rome. Everyone has a theory. Violent video games, rap, hip hop, and metal music come in for their share of blame. The 99% tell me about corporate greed and the betrayal of  governmental leaders. I’m at a point in my life where if you don’t want to talk about the solution then kindly shut the f@ck up about what you think the problem is.

I love talking to people who want to make things better. The ones I enjoy most are the folks who have gotten past the idea that they or we or anyone else is going to save the world. I like folks who want to do what they can in their family, in their neighborhood, and in the communities. This is what I advocate to others: we have a choice every day to focus on what we can do or upon what we are powerless over.

I meet a lot of people who are invested in healing themselves and serving others. The commonality amongst all of them is that in some significant way, they have known overwhelming pain and suffering. Just as the most generous people I know are working class poor, the most empathic and loving people I know are those who have overcome great loss and endured.

I met with a lady this week who has long been part of the solution. She’s decided that the best thing she can do in her retirement is to volunteer in service to veterans who are suffering from PTSD and addictions. She was extremely grateful that I would be willing to meet with her and support her efforts. All I could think as she professed her gratitude was, “Why wouldn’t I? and “How could I not?” She is amongst those who get it – that it is an honor to serve others.

I advocate pragmatic idealism. Ideas without application are useless and faith without works is dead. Somewhere in your family, your workplace, your neighborhood, amongst your friends, there is a person suffering. Reach out and become part of their solution. All of us want to feel safe and a part of something greater than ourselves.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are…” Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

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