Enough is enough. I can’t stand watching one more news clip of terrified people fleeing schools, office buildings, churches, and movie theaters. I want to be done with the carnage and confusion. The slaughter of innocents and the overthrow of our human psyche. And, you know what? America’s mass violence is your fault. It is my fault. Stay with me here.
Not Another Killing Rampage!
Yesterday I escaped my office to fit in a late afternoon exercise bike ride at the gym. With my Martha Stewart Living issue on “200+ Ways to Live Happier, Healthier, Cleaner & Greener” in hand, I set my workout level on the bike and glanced up at the row of TV screens.
What? Another mass shooting? Noooooo … now where? Forget Martha and cleaner and greener, America was now scrambling yet again to piece together the crime scene and twisted motivation of one more person who chose to injure, maim, and kill.
Because I’ve been a journalist on scene after a number of mass murders in our country, people often say to me after another killing incident, “What do you think about another mass violence tragedy?” Ugh. It pains me deeply when I learn of more bloodshed in places many of us have long considered safe. I cringe thinking about the dead and the wounded, and the survivors and families whose lives are splintered with unimaginable disbelief and anguish. How do the police officers and first responders continue to step into the horrors of the unfolding war zones? Lord, have mercy. Please do.
The Buck Stops Here
So what should we do about all this never-ending violence? Work across political aisles to rethink policies and laws? Yes. Revaluate mental health services? Yes. Point the finger at us? Yes. Wait. This isn’t my fault? Well, in a way the mayhem is the fault of all of us.
As I peddled and pondered yesterday at the gym, I kept asking myself, How can I make a difference in stopping this insane escalation of killing? What part of this comes down to how I live in my community and country? Where have I personally contributed to the underlying problems?
Forensic psychologists are scrambling to compare the profile of these killers. Mostly men. Predominantly white. Some have untreated mental disorders. A New York Times feature on mass murderers describes the character of these troubled souls, “they are often paranoid, resentful or narcissistic.”
Resentful. Now we’re getting closer to the gnarly-rooted problem. Yesterday one of the TV commentators cited a new study reporting that almost half of all the U.S. mass killers in recent history had an issue with personal grievance. Revenge. Bitterness. Unforgiveness.
Wasn’t humanity’s first murder committed by a brother peeved that his offering was second-rate? That gene of feeling slighted and less than and unloved is encoded in all of us.
What Can We Each Do?
It’s not the barrel of a gun or the explosive evil of rogue terrorists that I should fear. I need to shudder at the condition of my own heart.
Every time I complain about something someone did or didn’t do, I reveal the darkness in my own attitudes. Whenever I turn a blind eye to someone else’s struggle, I dim their chance of change and success. If I point a finger at your weaknesses, I decrease my own strengths.
Before another person on our planet is senselessly killed in mass violence, you and I can rise up and turn around our own indifference, insensitivity, and indignation. What if we modeled these basic action points in our lives and taught all the children in our lives to do the same? Start with just one.
- Realize that you can’t always have your own way.
- Be okay with failing at something.
- Lean into what disappointment can teach you.
- Yield to others in traffic, in lines, in everyday situations.
- Talk out the tough stuff when a relationship, job, or aspiration ends.
- Allow love to win out over hatred and revenge.
- Kill people with kindness and courtesy.
- Sit and really listen to someone who is hurting.
- Show respect for those in authority even if you disagree with them.
- Take personal responsibility for poor choices.
- Understand that the best way is not always the easiest way.
- Speak up, step in when you see a wrong done.
- Watch out for planting seeds of grumbling and bickering.
- Learn to temper your speech and your temper.
Enough is enough. America’s mass violence is your fault. It is my fault. But we together can effect change by looking inward, then living well outward. For as Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Right on Beth!!!
This is so timely as we all have had enough. Thanks for the ideas and ways to make a change in our own lives– first.
Our own lives first, Nancy, and simply. Even just a small change of awareness adds up to a better bigger picture.
Powerful. That title is infuriating but true. It grabbed my attention and made me read. Well done.
Thank you, Tez. I stretched with using the “you,” and it sure includes ME. The blaming everyone else in our culture gets old and big changes often start with the small everyday choices.
Beth, this is so good. A dear lady in one of my assisted living Bible studies was fond of reminding us all that when we point a finger at someone, four fingers are pointing back at us! It begins in each heart, and I so agree it needs to begin today.
Thank you, Nancy. I wholeheartedly agree with the four fingers pointing back at each of us. In writing this post, I was keenly aware of MY need to step up my game on what I model to others. Incremental changes can add up to moving mountains.
Thank you, Enne. Challenging to write, but I just had to speak up. Even though I don’t have my own children, I can still help shape future generations to show more love, respect, and kindness. And deal with disappointment and anger instead of acting out with violence and self-destruction. Don’t get me going…. 🙂
Yes, good points. Re “yielding to others in traffic, etc.,” I’ve been doing that a lot more since I realized how many unstable folks are out there….and some of them have guns.
I tell you, Greg, just yielding to others in the little things like traffic, does help keep life in perspective.
Move over H.R.C….Beth for our next woman president!
Another example of your artistry with the written word…amen, and amen!
Oh, Kristi, you make me chuckle on the political thing. Not my realm of interest or expertise, but I do care to speak encouragement and truth whenever appropriate.
Great thoughts to ponder Beth, thanks for the encouragement to point the finger at me and see what I can do…
Carrie, thanks for your comment. It is true about the quote when I point a finger at someone else, there’s four fingers pointing back at me. My intent of the article was to say that we can ALL take little steps to help. I hope you are encouraged to keep pressing on with good.
When I was growing up, I worked hard to win a majorette role each year, to sing for community functions, and to be a dependable softball pitcher, etc.
However, I was never given a prize, a trophy, or accolades for just everyday accomplishments that I was simply expected to do.
Nowadays, it seems that children get rewarded for almost everything. No one is learning how to do what’s right, noble, and good without expecting a prize or reward for just doing what they’re supposed to do.
I can’t help but wonder about how entitlement is being instilled into so many of our youth today.
That troubles me.
On a different note…
As an RN and a professional working in the realm of Mental Health, I’m keenly aware that someone can look normal and even “behave” appropriately much of the time, but be suffering and struggling with BiPolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Major Depression, Personality Disorders, and/or more.
That is a very sad reality and my heart hurts for those individuals and their families / caregivers.
Additionally, on an even more troubling level, the darkness of a soul can lead one to act out from the most base and evil ponderings of a heart that’s anchored in the wicked kingdom of darkness.
From my clear vantage point, this is not about guns. They’ve been in America since the 1700s. It’s about who carries and wields the weapon. It’s about those who truly need Jesus = who can heal and set the captives free from the strongholds of darkness and evil.
As always, thank you for this thought-provoking read.
Dorease, thank you for sharing from your well-rounded perspective on what is underlying the troubling violence problems in our country and world. This is a complicated issue that does have roots in moral character and as you state “strongholds of darkness and evil.” All this reminds me Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Such sad news…thank you for offering hope in a dark world. Love the inspirational words of wisdom…as always…