It’s been a very difficult weekend. On the surface, it’s been fun, because I kept myself busy and I was social, and did a lot more things than the usual weekend. But inside I’m like every person in the country right now, crying out for the victims of Friday’s massacre.
Honestly. The words “children” and “massacre” should never be in the same sentence. Yet that’s all we are seeing in the news. It was surreal and unimaginable to read that news about what happened. I have been horrified by a lot of stories in the news. I have cried at news stories before this, but not like I cried over this one. The level of horror is beyond anything else I can think of, outside of 9-11. I know each person reading this right now feels just like I do; and I know we all desperately need something to CHANGE, so this can’t keep happening. This event, this loss of 20 innocent children’s lives, needs to be the final straw for all of us. We can’t just ignore the problem, or let politics get in the way of what needs to be done. And in my opinion, I’ve narrowed it down to three basic things:
1) Reinstate funding (federal, state) for psychiatric facilities and treatment. Too many of those places closed starting in the 1980s, and that’s right around the time people began these kind of massacres. It’s so sad to read about parents who are ‘terrified’ of their own mentally-ill children, and have almost no support or help. I don’t believe the parents of these disturbed killers are always to blame. I think sometimes they really do try to do everything they can to help their kids, but if the professional support isn’t available, what are they able to do?
2) Ban the sale of military-grade assault weapons. It doesn’t matter which gun models these killers used… they used weapons that can fire at fast succession so they could kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Someone needs to explain to me WHY these are manufactured and available for sale in this country. For hunting? Why? Are deers really that hard to take down? They are items made specifically to end life, animal or human. Stop selling them, and when people are caught with them, give them massive fines, take the weapons away and possibly given them jail time if they have a criminal record. The pro-gun people are like, “people kill people, guns don’t kill people” but that’s bullshit, obviously, because all of these killers who have carried out the most deadly attacks have used GUNS. Yes, the person behind the gun was the problem, but it still took a multi-round weapon to carry out the killings. Gun control isn’t the entire answer, but it does need to be a big part of the national discussion if we’re talking about stemming violence. If the weapons are no longer as easy to acquire, it could save some lives. And some lives is worth the restrictions on the pro-gun people’s “rights.”
3) Encourage positive actions and getting to know other people as much as possible. The social disconnect in our society is nuts, if you think about it. So many people don’t know their neighbors’ names (myself included), or want to even have phone conversations anymore in favor of the less-personal text or email. If you don’t have regular interaction with other people, especially people outside of your own cultural circle, religion, etc, you won’t know how to empathize properly. Other people become just that– Others. Who cares about everyone else, right? As long as you and your little circle of family and friends are safe, screw the rest of the world. It’s become too easy to isolate yourself and become desensitized to the violence we see on TV, in movies and video games, and other places. Hell, even death on the news isn’t a big deal to most people. We’re used to it now. But I’m thinking, we start a conversation in this country to encourage everyone to step back and take a look at their own actions and attitudes. It’s hard to do, because not many people are comfortable admitting their own faults or flaws, but DAMN, I think it’s necessary at this point. Let’s put a premium on BEING NICE and INCLUSIVE instead of snarky, indifferent or even hostile. You know that whole “pay it forward” movement? It works. People who are the recipients of a kind act tend to reciprocate at some point, because they recognize the wonderful feeling they got when they realized someone reached out and cared to do something nice for a stranger– and how great it feels to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of some of my own indifference to others and I don’t want to write gratuitous violence into any of my books. Because, WHY? Why do I have to do that? Why add ugliness to the world when it’s easier and more satisfying to find something better to put out there?
So, that’s my reaction to this tragedy. I really do hope that this time, it’s enough to spur action and actual change. The answer isn’t stepped-up security at schools, or people keeping their kids home for fear the kids will get shot up at school. The kind of violence that happened Friday could have happened anywhere. (The mall, the movie theater, a ‘meet your Senator’ event at a supermarket…) So let’s get to the heart of the discussion and figure out where the violence comes from, and why it’s happening, and begin to sort out what we can ALL do. It’s on ALL OF US, I believe. I’m not sitting around waiting for politicians to get the work done. I’m doing my part to be a better member of society. I hope you’re thinking about this, too.
I’m not crying for those children and adults as much anymore. Because I am angry and totally fed-up with the world as it has been. Now I am just resolved to do my personal best to make this a country that properly honors their memory by working to ensure something like this never happens again. I mean it. Accepting this as a sad ‘sign of our times’ or something like that is a lazy cop-out. So stop whining, and do something to make your tiny contribution to this planet MATTER.
It might not be as tiny as you think.