Friday, December 21, 2012

Response to Recent Gun Violence

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Response to Recent Acts of Gun Violence

I’m sitting and staring at the cursor blinking on the screen, trying to gather thoughts to share and extend my support for the victims of the recent incidents of violence.  What is there to say?  How do you respond to victims that are trying to cope with senseless violence?  Images of children excited about the Christmas Holiday and the gifts neatly wrapped awaiting them under the Christmas tree flash through my mind.  Families that had hoped and prayed for the birth of the child lost are mourning during this season that was carefully thought out for their little one.  What can you say to that?  Empathizing with the families causes us to want to assign blame.  Blame the schools.  They were unprepared.  Blame the parents.  They didn’t do enough to protect us from their child.  Blame the gun makers or owners or sellers.  Why do we need guns?

The truth is violence is a part of our world every single day.  Whether it’s the video games, what we watch on television or a hobby, we are exposed to violence daily.  It seems a good idea to restrict access to guns, but that isn’t the focus.  If the perpetrators of these crimes didn’t have access to guns, the plans that were made to do this would’ve involved some other deadly weapon.  The focus is on the logic that led to these crimes.  Many people take part in these activities that don’t go out and become violent with real people.  What is it that pushes some toward rationalizing violence as a solution?  Some would say it was bullying, which is an assault that can be both physical and psychological.  The mental abuse that happens when a person is bullied can have tremendous consequences on the victim, abuser and unfortunately others who could have had nothing to do with the abuse.  Others have cited mental illness.  Yet the facts are that there are millions who suffer mental illness that also never become violent.

While we are picking apart the tragedy and trying to arrive at some sort of solution to make us feel safe or hope that we can prevent such tragedy from recurring, let’s not forget that the perpetrators are also victims of their own actions.  It’s important not to demonize the perpetrators or take this opportunity to dump all the labels and ills that we can.  Once we stop seeing human beings, we become ineffective at teaching how important it is to preserve the sanctity of human life.  As parents, talk with your children about violence.  Make certain that they understand the difference between what is considered entertainment and reality.  Also teach and model appropriate behavior when faced with issues of anger management.  It could be that some commit such senseless acts due to a lack of knowledge about appropriate forms of expression, feeling that their “power” was taken away or that they were being ignored.  Whatever the reason, healthy communication is the path to understanding and guidance.  

This holiday season, take a moment to say a prayer for the families of the victims of these crimes.  Realize that the time we have to share with family is precious and should never be taken for granted.  Include in your New Year resolutions a goal to make more time doing constructive things with your child if you’re a parent, and remain mindful of how your child is spending his or her time.  Enjoy your holiday season among family in a warm and nurturing environment.  Season’s greetings. 

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