So after the shooting Thursday morning I was raw with emotion. Anger, frustration, sadness, fear, hopelessness and compassion were in a constant battle over control. I immediately began responding to all of the FB posts saying how it was not about guns. I actually was stupid enough to try and politely ( I thought ) debate these people with logic and rational thinking. I ended up being called judgemental and critical and ‘how dare I’ try to limit someone’s legal rights. Luckily I was not near a computer when I penned my first response to this angry, fearful man… this man didn’t know me, not even as a FB friend. He was just arguing. He didn’t know the depth of pain I was feeling or how close to the proverbial edge I was… and for a while he pushed me over. It was not that kind of edge that this shooter must have been teetering on for the past few months, but in his mind he was pushed as well.
The truth is we all want a solution. And from the reaction of this man I could tell that the solution would not be less guns or any roadblock put between him and his ability to obtain them. I thought… what if there were a way to track people’s purchases of flak jackets, or gas masks, or whatever someone might want to aid in this kind of terror? I am sure we have the capability – my computer knows when I look at a new pair of clogs and then it sends me all kinds of info on clogs for the next month. Or what if there was some way to figure out if someone was buying more than one gun in a 6 month period? They might need some counseling. A collector may take years to acquire their collection… but someone on the edge will probably do it more quickly. I don’t know. Maybe gun sales should be linked with letters of recommendation from two people outside of your family. Then good people could still own guns but the crazies might threaten people to fill out paperwork, or retaliate if they are denied a permit.
So… what can we do TODAY to make a difference. Because even if my ideas are great, and feasible, it will take years for Congress to get these things in place and at the rate we are going that means lots more of these horrors. And we all want to feel safe tomorrow when we send our children out the door.
Here is my answer… YOU need to make a connection. Everyday, everywhere, all the time. You don’t need to pray that it will be better, that people will heal, that the grieving will be comforted, that no one will ever do this again… you can do that if it makes you feel better… but you are doing it for yourself so you feel you are doing something.
But here is the thing that will make a difference – starting today. Connect with people! That kid in a hoodie at the back of your class who turns in all their assignments and doesn’t cause any problems… talk to him! Ask if people are ok when you see them and wait for them to respond. Look for that weird guy in the market that only has tuna in his cart and smile at him when you pass his cart. Say hello to people and smile. Tell people your name and ask them for theirs. Use it! If you don’t remember it the next time your paths’ cross then be real and ask them again.
All of these shooters have one thing in common… they felt alienated from others. If we all tried to show some caring and compassion, that might just make a difference – and it won’t have to sit in congress for two years to go into effect. It can start as soon as you walk out of your house in the morning. We can put fences around every school, and armed guards at every movie theater but we can’t anticipate every potential situation. But if we connect, if we all connect, maybe we can prevent something like what happened in my town from happening in yours.