O P I N I O N
Whenever a mass shooting takes place everyone quickly races to make some sense of the horrific display of carnage. Why would a person or persons inflict such pain on others? Why now? Why them? Just why?
Often times there seems to be no real answers. Sometimes it is related to hate or an act of revenge. There have even been times when individuals have reported seeing it growing and now live with regret that they never spoke up. Some blame mental illness but mental illness in itself is not a predictor of violence. While someone in a psychotic state can inflict violence towards others, often they are the victim of that violence. Just because someone is dealing with a mental illness does not create in them an uncontrollable desire to physically express violence towards others or even the taking of another’s life.
Then there are the weapons. The weapons we see often used in these acts. As soon as it is brought up…the battle of second amendment rights quickly takes on a distinct “them against us” debate. A debate that, even to this day and countless lives lost, never gets resolved. But there really is reason to look here, if for no other fact that these weapons we see killing innocent Americans are intended to be used in the battling of wars and not for home self-defense or the hunting of animals. Their development was to end the lives of multiple combatants all at once, at times of a war conflict.
So once again lives are lost, just for being in the right place at the wrong time. Families are destroyed and communities are left angered, sad and numb. We pray for the lives lost as we seek for reasonable answers.
Where we will go from here depends on what kind of world we want for our future generations. Generations that should have every reason to believe in hope, every reason to believe in love, every reason to believe that we all deserve respect and the freedom to live a life without being gunned down.
There are sensible decisions that we can all make, at the very least, decisions, which give individuals time, and a pause to think about their behaviors. One that encourages the talking out of feelings and conflict resolution. Sensible and workable new gun laws. This would mean that all sides come to the table and reason for the safety of all and not one side or the other. It is called the art of compromise and it works.
We can also choose to do or say nothing. We can cry a lot. We can stand up and scream words like ENOUGH! But if this is all we do, the carnage will continue, and just like those who saw it festering and now live a life of regret, we will join together in a world of no freedom, a world filled with unbearable loss. A world of a confused distancing of love. A world lacking in hope.
President Kennedy once said, “If not us, who? If not now, when? To most Americans the answer is us, and the time is now.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Thoughtful prose on topics of general interest are welcome here. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox.
Rik Cornell, LICSW, is Vice President of Community Relations for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health or substance misuse crisis or at risk of harming themselves or others, please call the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) of The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester at (800) 688-3544.