Our Nation is in mourning following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooter, who I will not grace with his name, took the lives of 27 individuals, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven. What we have seen is the cruelest and sickest kind of act, the brutal murder of innocent children days before Christmas and in the middle of Hanukkah.
I have heard countless tale of how the America that my peers and I have grown up in is not the same America that our parents grew up in. Since Columbine, there has been a seemingly endless amount of shootings. With the news in Connecticut, we were still trying to piece together the shooting in Oregon. When the Oregon mall shooting took place, we flashed back to the shooting in Greenland. When the Greenland police officers were killed in the line of duty, we looked back to Aurora. When the Aurora Theater was attacked, we all looked back to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona. It goes on and on and on back through Virginia Tech and Columbine. We always ask and debate what the cause of these shootings is, but we never effectively prevent the next one from being more disturbing and more deadly.
None of us can fathom what would empower someone to bring a gun into a defenseless school and shoot upon innocent children and teachers. However, we can examine his life, how he interacted with others, and examine what lead to that fateful day.
We all like to think we are close knit communities, well connected throughout our various towns and villages, but unfortunately we are not. We are all absorbed in our busy lives and find it difficult to build new, stronger connections between our neighbors. We all go day to day, living our lives while trying our best to be good citizens, but we have to do more.
We can debate gun policy, mental health policy, and school safety for the unforeseeable future. But, if we waste our attention on those issues, and we do little at making our communities better places, we will never break the psychological hold that has motivated too many of these shootings.
Donate your time and money to local charity groups. Shop at a local Farmer’s Market or small business. Volunteer at schools to get in touch with the future of our country. Host community events in neighborhoods to build community pride. Go to local concerts, celebrations, and parades to further your community involvement. See to the construction of parks and recreational projects in your community, either by private or public forces, to foster true community development. We all have the capacity to do so much good, that if we all apply together we will see so much less evil permeate our towns and cities. Gandhi’s words ring true today as they did when he achieve independence for India, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. Step back and see ways that you can change. Start by making yourself a better person, then your families, and then your communities. We can see a serious drop in violence and hate from Newtown to Chicago, from Aurora to Greenland, and from Oregon to Virginia.
We must always tribute those souls lost in these terrible tragedies. We remember the killers in these tragedies, but we Unthinkable horrors do not start with guns, mental health policy, or school safety. The seeds for these horrific acts are planted in the communities we all live in, and if we want to have a bright future, we must make the present a much better place.