What Can We Do?

My heart is heavy after the violence in Parkland. There have been so many school shootings already in 2018. It’s beyond comprehension that our schools have become the LEAST safe place for our children to be.

But shopping malls, movie theaters, nightclubs, even churches are not safe either. We know now that no place is truly, unconditionally safe. Is there anything we can do about it? Would it be acceptable to do nothing?

The Dalai Lama says, “We may say prayers when we are trying to solve the problems we face, but it is up to us to put an end to violence and bring about peace. Creating peace is our responsibility. To pray for peace while still engaging in the causes that give rise to violence is contradictory.”

What can the average person realistically do to put an end to violence and bring about peace? Here are some ideas I’ve been able to come up with through my sadness:

1. Advocate. Maybe we could start with demanding some measure of gun control. No one wants to take away all the guns, truly. Also, no one really believes that we can stop 100% of gun violence by enacting a few restrictions on weapon sales.

But maybe, just maybe, if we have a little bit more screening and some sensible restrictions, we could make a bit of an impact. That’s better than no change, having no impact at all.

Consider this: Do you lock your house and your car? We could argue that a professional criminal will find a way in despite your very best efforts. If we can’t eliminate 100% of break-ins, why bother locking our doors? Is it because locking the doors does keep out some percentage of mentally disturbed people and crooks?

What if we could stop some percentage of shooters?

2. Advocate. While we’re at it, we need to fight for services for persons with mental illness.

3. Volunteer. There are organizations committed to helping young people at risk. Locally a dedicated group of volunteers works with students at the St. Johns Youth Academy (through an amazing organization called Compassionate St. Augustine) on things like conflict resolution, non-violent communication and much more. Groups like St. Augustine Youth Services, Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters all need volunteers. There are kids already in the court system who need a Guardian ad Litem to represent them. If that’s too big of a commitment, find a way to be a mentor.

There are adults “at risk” too! Volunteers are needed for homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, Learn to Read, and on and on and on.

4. Be Kind. If we can’t commit to volunteering on a regular basis, the very least we can do is smile at someone who may be having a rough time. Give a compliment and/or reassurance. Tell someone “You got this. I believe in you.” Maybe that’s just what someone needs to hear to turn away from a bad decision.

Maybe that’s what we can contribute to the healing process. We have to be the change we wish to see. We have to keep seeing the goodness in people, and in the world. And if we can’t see the goodness, we have to BE the goodness.

Let’s do what we can, now, before there’s another tragedy. Let’s start a real dialog, and do what we can to create more peace and goodness in the world.

Category : Blog &Personal Growth Posted on February 21, 2018

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