By Deb Avery
There is an undercurrent of violence running through the heart of our country.
It isn’t new, but it is changing, mutating and growing. As the population continues to soar, so too will the violence, the horrors and the atrocities. Unless we do something to bring about a change.
It’s so easy to look at the recent histories of shootings in this country and blame the gun laws and politicians. And a lot of that is simply the truth. But there are so many layers to the insidious nature of violence. When you begin to peel back these layers, it’s possible to see that there are many ugly truths hidden beneath the surface. The outer layer is all about guns and politicians. Guns are easily accessible and very profitable, and this brings out the ugliness of politicians who are deep inside the pockets of the NRA. It is very profitable for them (the politicians) to be there and very profitable for the NRA to keep them there.
It is also easy for both of them to rationalize their actions by invoking the 2nd Amendment. Which, if you read carefully and logically, does not intend for civilians to be walking around with military style weapons and the deadly attachments on the market today which turn them into optimum killing machines.
Directly underneath this outer layer, the flaws in the gun laws are revealed. The fact that someone who may not be able to obtain a concealed carry permit is allowed to “open carry,” or simply stated, to strap on a gun or rifle and walk among the general public, in local restaurants and stores—is a travesty. Not all states allow this, but many do. My state is one of them.
But my question to those who do this is this: When does your “right” to the 2nd Amendment trump my right to walk on a street, sit down at a restaurant or buy groceries with a sense of peace and safety? I have no way to access your mind or character to know if you are one of the “good guys” or one of the “bad guys.”
As we peel back another layer, we try to understand why these mass killings continue to grow more numerous by looking at the motives and behavior of those involved.
Although we may never know the mental state of another human being, it is obvious that some of these shooters were suffering from serious mental issues. But instead of finding help readily available to deal with their issues, or at least get treatment and counsel, more and more are turning to violence as an outlet—usually not caring if they live or die with their victims.
We have failed as a nation to help some of the most vulnerable or disturbed among us. Funding for mental health is at an all time low. Stress and violence is at an all time high. We’re losing our balance.
The next layer, and a very distressing one, is the prevalence of notoriety—the craving to be somebody—no matter if it’s only for a few minutes or a few days. It has almost reached epidemic levels in these times of social media. It has become more important to see how many “likes” one can obtain instead of liking ourselves. It is more important to present an image of being a badass or appearing highly successful and liked, than to be a decent, caring person. The image of being cool has taken over the act of being happy.
Social media is wonderful when used responsibly and respectfully. It is an awesome way to connect with others when we are separated by distance. It can bring us closer to those we care about. But it also allows strangers, some of whom we know absolutely nothing about, to enter our private space. It becomes like a popularity contest instead of a way to enrich our lives. It’s a way to take one-upmanship to the extreme.
One can go from nobody to viral in a matter of hours.
As we peel back the final layer, we find ourselves looking into the darkness of apathy. Apathy is a horrible choice, yet after we’ve watched these horrors unfold time and time again, we find ourselves wanting to look away because the horror is just too great. We want to blame and we find hate filling our hearts. And it seems this is especially true when it comes to our schools and our children.
Our public schools receive the least of our funding and security. How is this even possible in the United States? Why is it that I cannot walk into my local courthouse to buy a vehicle tag, pay taxes or get my driver’s license without facing two security guards and going through a search, yet I can walk into the local elementary or high school with hardly a glance?
Why is there no funding and more protection for our most vulnerable and priceless treasures—our children?
We have to do better. We must do better.
There is a middle way. There is a path toward helping to solve the reasons behind this prevalence of violence in the world, and it beings with each of us. Our choices, our voices and our actions are needed now more than ever. We cannot afford to look away or continue down the path we are headed. The children of this country cannot afford our apathy.
The lives of our future generations, our loved ones, and our way of life depend on it.
Let your voice be heard. Make sound, logical choices in elections instead of simply voting along party lines. Let these words from 17 year old David Hogg echo throughout your heart and mind:
“We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”
These words were directed to Congress, but we the people elect the Congress. Do so wisely.
And lastly, let us work on ourselves. For this is where true change comes from. When we find love for ourselves, it is easier to find love for others.
When we find peace within our own hearts, we will find peace in the world around us.
Photo: Michael Murphy
Editor: Dana Gornall