School shootings! Eighteen have occurred in 2018, already. Some we hear about, others not. How can we stop them? Why are they happening? I don't pretend to have the answers but I do wonder about some things I have not heard on television or social media.
We seem incapable of bonding around the one thing that should be a natural instinct and priority in a human being, our children's safety and security. Since Columbine in 1999, 150,000 children have been exposed to gun violence in their schools. Some, sadly have died, and many have been left with wounds of Post Traumatic Stress and their lives will be different forever.
Children born in the last 18 years only know schools that are in lockdown mode. Often, there is a police officer or security guard present with a gun. Besides practicing fire drills they are now practicing self-defense drills. That is all they know! I wonder what impression is being born in children and teens who practice "running, hiding and fighting;" hiding in closets, under desks, locking doors, exiting their school with their hands held above their heads, surrounded by police, FBI, dead bodies, ambulances. How will communities heal from these mass shootings?
The Silent Generation, the Boomers and the X-generation grew up taking for granted we would be safe and secure, pretty much anywhere, in school, in church, hanging out on a street corner with friends. But something began to change in our society in the 90's for our millennial generation, and continues into our newest generation, the Z'ers, the oldest of whom are around 16 years of age.
After Columbine in 1999, we were horrified. This mass shooting was just the beginning of too many school and church shootings to come. This Country, many self-describe as the most powerful in the world, does not seem able to keep our children safe. Our government, our institutions, our decision-making at the governmental levels, and even the breakdown of many families to divorce contribute to our children's fear, anxiety, mistrust, alienation, cynicism and more. This is not the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren. I am sure we all want better for our kids & teens.
We spend trillions keeping terrorists out of our country. Well, the enemy is among us. They are some of our disenfranchised children and teens. Until we are healthy from within, we will never stop the school and church massacres. Let's look at the big picture and let's insist our leaders put aside their partisan ways. When they say "now is not the time to talk about solutions," we say NOW is the time and everyday is the time! We need to hold the expectation that decisions made at the Congressional federal, state and local levels be measured against whether it is in the best interest of our children's well-being.
We elders should be the gatekeepers for our society's values and beliefs. I fear we may have given that role up, but, it is ours to claim. Wisdom is our gift and we need to activate it and become advocates for our children. I am suggesting that we begin to have dialogues around the country and in the circle include people with different points of view, who look different from you but care about the future of our children. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, lower, middle or upper class. it does not matter because real dialogue that only reflects the interest of our children, and not self-interest, will bridge all of our differences and our commonalities will become apparent.
Real dialogue consists of mutual purpose, mutual meaning and mutual respect. That means we know the purpose for which we gather, we mutually seek to understand each other, and we respect everyone present and we are goal-focused. We don't try to change anyone's mind, our primary role and responsibility is to listen and to understand and apply our wisdom gathered from years of living. From this place, common ground and solutions will emerge with very little effort.
If we stay polarized we will govern by dividing and conquering; we will all lose in the end, especially our children. If we are swayed by anything less than valuing what is best for our children, we must reject it even if it means a loss of power and influence. Elders need to take the lead here as we could be stewards for future generations. If our leaders act in a way that contradicts our commitment to the safety of our children, than we need to become the leaders we need at this time in our Country.
PS - The number to the White House is: 1-202-456-1414. You can google the phone numbers to your senators and representatives ... they need to hear from all of us ... a lot!!