Responding to Gun Violence - A Third Choice!Mar 28, 2023
Note: This article is not intended to be political or polarizing but rather an alternative way of looking at and responding to recent events. An approach that incorporates our inner wisdom, intelligence, and highest expression.
As an empathic mother to three small children (six-year-old boy and twin three-year-old girls), each time there is a school shooting, I feel the pain of those impacted and the fear of it happening to my children next.
I have to ask myself, after so many shootings, what will it take to bring about change? To make our schools (especially our elementary schools) safe, we should be willing to do anything.
And yet, they keep happening and it often feels as though we are doing very little in response.
The Problem with Polarization
I believe the greatest problem with this issue is the tendency to paint the picture with only two colors, to view the issue as having only two choices: being either pro-guns or anti-guns. When we paint the picture and tell the story as if there is only right or wrong, bad or good, free or restricted, we fail to consider the wide array of alternative choices.
We fail our children by allowing our limited perspectives to shape a world where they can be harmed while going to school.
We fail ourselves by being unwilling to consider the nuances necessary to solve a complex issue.
We fail each other by choosing to listen to and be influenced by the political sound bites rather than do the hard work of solving a complex issue.
If we can travel through space, split the atom, create artificial intelligence, survive a global pandemic, and more…surely, we can figure out how to keep our children from being shot and killed at school.
The issue is not isolated, and a little research reveals other countries have already solved this issue. Take Australia, who acted swiftly after their first mass shooting to enact legislation that has prevented other incidents since then. Those politicians had the courage to take action that would end their political careers in the interest of protecting their people and children.
We often limit ourselves by choosing to categorize ourselves into one of only two choices: those who support greater gun control (anti-gun) and those who resist more gun control (pro-gun). But there is most definitely a third choice we must all consider.
The Third Choice - A Choice worth considering!
The third choice is combining our courage, creativity, and compassion in pursuit of better solutions by exploring the root cause of our inability to move beyond the comfort of polarity and duality.
- To ask: Why then do our leaders lack such courage? Why then do we all lack such courage? A lack of courage is usually due to a deep-rooted fear. What are we afraid of? What fears are preventing us as a society from making decisions that have been proven elsewhere to make a huge difference? How do we overcome our fears and have the courage to consider the issue from fresh perspectives and new mindsets?
- To ask: Why do we continue making the same arguments in an endless loop, barely and rarely making progress at all? Why are we stuck, as a society, in the same debates that lack creativity of thought? Why are we unable to mature ourselves into a more nuanced understanding that would allow us to address these issues in new and creative ways?
- To ask: Where is our compassion for those who have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer? Why do we offer pity, sympathy, and at best empathy, but lack the conviction to take the action required of true compassion? If we truly had compassion for the loss of life, we would choose to act from this space of understanding.
Maybe our society and all (or many) of us within it require greater growth in these capabilities or lack these capabilities at levels necessary for change. Maybe no one is bad, or wrong, or evil, but instead, we require internal growth and self-discovery. We are not missing them but rather need to develop them further, to grow them such that we can find greater solutions and take action upon them.
- What if instead of engaging in useless polarizing debate, we could ground ourselves in a balanced state of creativity compassion and courage?
- What if we could leverage the full creativity of our minds to find new solutions to an old problem?
- What if we could move forward from a heartfelt place of true compassion that requires us to take action?
- What if we could access our inner courage to move beyond our fears and do whatever is necessary to bring change even if it means making personal sacrifices?
I wonder what might happen if we stopped blaming, complaining, and shaming one another and, instead, looked inward to combine our inner creativity, compassion, and courage towards finding solutions; if we each took personal accountability for the issue and sought solutions from this place of greater wisdom.
Take Time to Reflect!
How might you embrace your creativity, compassion, and courage as you move throughout your day and respond to yesterday’s latest tragedy?
Take sometime today, tomorrow, the next day and consider what you might do to further grow your creativity, compassion, and courage. Consider how you might do so with your family and children. Rather than resist change, embrace the possibility that through growth we might actually discover more about ourselves, each other, and how to prevent (or at least reduce) future tragedies.
At a minimum, may this article serve as a reminder that we are all experiencing these tragedies differently and empathy is essential. Each time there is a school shooting, many parents struggle with anxiety at sending their children to school. We agonize with how to talk to our children and cope in a world with such violence in places that should be safe. During these times, it is more important than ever to demonstrate understanding, empathy, and compassion for one and other.
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