What happened last week in Connecticut was horrific, sad, and worrisome. Sadly, what has occurred over the past year is equally tragic. Innocent children and adults gunned down by a madman makes you wonder what is going on in this country. Have we lost our collective responsibility? Seven incidents in one year! Really??!! 61 victims!!! Why??!! What will Fox News say about this? PBS? CNN? BBC? How will the politicians respond?
It’s easy to cast blame for the violence within our society. We could say technology has eviscerated our humanity leaving us mind-numbingly dependent on tweets, texts, emails, and updates from “friends”. We could say the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Rights advocates are to blame. We could blame economic malaise and high unemployment as the culprits. Or, we could blame the media. Better yet, we could say we’ve lost religion and all sense of spirituality. Whichever way you slice it, there are many excuses behind the violence that defines our nation. In my humble opinion, however, it is the easy, easy access to guns in this country and fewer and fewer school social workers and psychologists that have contributed to the senseless deaths of so many people.
I’m angry we allow psychologically unstable individuals ready access to guns, particularly semi-automatics. I’m angry many of our leaders have resisted pursuing gun controls lest they disappoint powerful political groups and lobbyists, and I’m saddened we just don’t seem to learn from our mistakes. I’m also worried about our schools which lack the resources to counsel students, particularly those with serious mental health issues. The recent hard times were especially devastating on schools, and unfortunately, oftentimes the first positions to go are student support personnel. Who takes care of the troubled child? Who build’s the child’s sense of worth and value? Who attempts to address the factors which negatively impact the child? It’s the school social workers and psychologists who bring calm and normalcy to our troubled youth. We talk volumes about school reform, something I’m all for, but let’s not forget that schools also play a big role in promoting students’ social emotional growth and well-being.
How many incidents are necessary to change the laws that practically allow anyone to buy a gun? How many innocent victims will die before we say “enough is enough!”? When do we allocate resources to the needs of communities? When do we restore the front line workers who make a difference in a troubled student’s life, seeking to get the child back on track? Or do we continue with the status quo in both gun control laws and societal mental health issues? What if we had a new federal initiative titled, “Race to Mental Well-Being,” with funds dedicated to restore and enhance schools’ social services programs?
Last week I lost my Aunt Jo to a stroke. It was sad. However, she was 87 and died peacefully of natural causes. I can handle that. However, I and millions of others can not handle the violence in this great country. It’s time we demand our politicians exercise leadership and legislate gun control laws, and it’s time we rethink our priorities when it comes to school programs and funding. We must regroup and evaluate what we are doing for the least among us. We can do better.