My plan this week was to write about end-of-life choices. Then another school shooting happened. Another mass killing in which children will have no choice about the end of their lives. This was decided for them.
We are allowing the most innocent among us to be slaughtered. The response I hear most is one of hopelessness. There is simply nothing that can be done. I don’t believe this is true. However, how you go about dealing with that problem depends on your background, the vote you cast at the ballot box and probably which news sources you read.
I will state up front, I am vehemently opposed to America’s love affair with guns. We have somehow tied our identity and desire for self-preservation with the right to bear arms, to the tune of more than 300 million guns. I find the scale of weaponry, the easy access and the influence of the NRA to be unconscionable. My future ballot choices are going to hinge on this one thing alone. I believe the way in which we deal with mass shootings is the most important moral choice of our times.
If you disagree with me mightily, fine. But I would ask you: please take a good hard look at what is happening in our country, find the root of what you believe to be the problem, and do something about it.
If you believe our current gun laws are good enough but simply need to be enforced, then do something about it. Write your local and national lawmakers about increased enforcement and loopholes that you think should be closed. Pressure local law enforcement to do the same. Organize town meetings.
If you believe that we’ve overstepped the kinds of guns on the market, do something about it. Write to Congress. Organize a protest. Talk to fellow gun owners about signing petitions to ban the kinds of guns that keep killing masses of people. Push manufacturers to ban assault rifles. This type of campaign would be most effective from gun owners and supporters who still recognize the need for reasonable limits.
If you believe the problem is violence in the media, do something about it. Write to Hollywood and tell them you are boycotting future movies with gratuitous violence. Cut your HBO subscription. Draw a hard line in the sand about what kinds of movies and video games you allow in your home. Talk with neighbors and friends about doing the same thing. Write companies that produce violent content and let them know what you are doing. Organize gatherings where kids do things other than sit around playing an Xbox or a PlayStation, or go to see the latest “Fast and Furious” movie.
If you believe the issue is mental illness, do something about it. Write to your government officials about adopting more extensive health coverage for mental illness. Vote for leaders who support these measures. Find out what you can do locally to support the mentally ill. If you have family members, friends or acquaintances who struggle with mental illness, reach out a hand to assist them.
If you believe the issue is the breakup of the family, do something about it. Find those kids who don’t have good role models, who are falling through the cracks. Go to your local high school and become a mentor for struggling students. Volunteer at your local Boys & Girls Club. Get involved in programs to educate and provide support for single parents or women fleeing domestic abuse.
Support initiatives that help to break the cycle of poverty, that lead people to commit desperate acts. Use the money you would have used to upgrade your granite countertops to help a family in need.
If you believe the issue is bad parenting, do something about it. Start parenting classes for low-income families. Gather good resource materials and distribute them where they are needed most. Provide anger-management seminars. It's not enough anymore for us to quietly raise our own good families. This problem is too big.
We may be divided on what we think ails this country, but I think most of us can agree that America’s soul is sick. This is not going to change from the top down, but from the bottom up. We don’t need more rants on social media. We don’t need more finger-pointing. We don’t need more talk about how this will simply happen again and again because this is the price we pay for self-preservation in a fallen world.
We need action. We need to be in the streets, on our feet, saying we will not let this continue to happen.
As different as our worldviews may be, we have one thing in common: We love our families and want to protect our children. Doing nothing does exactly nothing to make America a safer place.
If you believe this country needs to change, start today, start this very minute, by doing something.