This past week-end has been horrific for the communities in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio. The news reports and social media videos have been frightening. It is incomprehensible to think that in a normal day when American families were doing their back-to-school shopping, they would encounter a mass shooting. Then in the very next day another shooting in a quiet suburb of Dayton, where in a very short few minutes nine people were killed and 27 were wounded. This brings the number of shootings in the U.S. this year to 32.
This reality has cultivated shock all across our country. The news is replete with concern, blaming, anguish and grief. It is alarming to realize that we have so little safety in a land where we have come to believe we are so free. We wonder what could change all of this? The answers are not one-dimensional but rather very complex.
There is a call for action to do something, but what? There are many suggestions and assertions from so many. We look to our leaders for resolve but they seem to struggle with divergent issues. We seem to be afraid to do anything because of the potential consequences.
We don’t want to lose our rights to bear arms so we are afraid of gun legislation. We are afraid of diverse races, religions, gender differences and what may happen if . . . . . .! We are conditioned to believe myths about others that create hate and antagonism.
We have polarity in our politics and fear of what may happen in our democracy. We live in a world charged with discord and potential destruction from nuclear weapons.
Our children fear being bullied. There are adverse childhood experiences, trauma, addictions and mental health issues that seem to leave us strangled in our systems. The list goes on. It is easy to see that living in this much fear can freeze us or make us defensive to the point of extreme reactions and even violence.
With all of those issues we recognize that we must rise up and develop significant action steps. In order to do so we must not act in fear but with a significant sense of resolve. We need to foster a vision for our families, our communities and our country that reflects the values of our constitution, stating that all men and women are created equal and must be given due respect as human beings regardless of race, religion or gender. That vision must look past where we are to where we could be. It should be a waving flag of hope for us all.
We also must have the volition and an unrelenting will to make changes, even hard ones, in order to alleviate these threats. In our cities, communities and country we must not live in fear but rather join together to do the things that will protect our children, our citizens and our communities by using common sense approaches without violating our freedoms provided to us in our constitution. We tend to put up barricades but we have proven as a country that we can achieve so much if we have the unrelenting commitment to overcome those roadblocks with interventions, innovations and care for our fellow citizens.
Finally, we must use our voices. Whether in our families, our churches, our schools, our communities or national politics we need our voices to alert of danger and speak up about it when we see it.
We need to bring help to those in our communities that we know are struggling relationally and emotionally. We need to support our parents in raising their children. We need to bring hope to our urban environments that are struggling rather than blame them. Our politicians need to rally around specifics that are obviously bipartisan and make legislation that will be protective of our citizens rather than making one political viewpoint. It means that we as citizens can use our voice and our vote to help change legislation and priorities in America.
There is plenty that we can do but not if we are controlled by fear. It is important to be bold, active, strong and caring for the issues that matter. Our hands should be extended to each other and our voices loud to protect our children and families. This kind of crisis is a signal for action and not retreat. There is always hope.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who have been injured by these horrid shootings. Our best response as a nation is to keep our vision for a better and safer country, to create strategic and innovative changes and to use our voices to help the process move forward with consistent and enduring momentum. We have done it before in our history and it is still possible today if we join together.