Whether you like it or not, I don’t think the issue of violence in this country will evolve until we start working with the mindset that we should be taking care of each other and looking out for ppl other than just ourselves or our families.
By this, I mean…making education, healthcare (mental health included), and communities a priority again. This means having more of a social safety net, and holding up kindness and understanding as a core value, rather than violent competitiveness, materialism, power and money.
Put down the remote and turn off the football game. If you like sports, as I do (playing them, not watching them), then go find one that encourages cooperation rather than hitting.
Denounce politicians that speak in terms of glorified violence, anger or retribution. I don’t think that is the way to make lasting change, though it might feel stronger and less powerless in the short term.
The more we build empathy among our children in the long term and demonstrate it towards each other, the safer we will be in the long run.
Real change needs to happen over time and it has to be a conscious, concerted effort. We have to decide, as a people what we are willing to sacrifice and change for the well-being of our country and our people.
This means being willing to sacrifice what you think is “fair” for the good of everyone (including yourself), being willing to look at those with less than you or who make worse choices than you with generosity, understanding and a will to help turn people around rather than focus on punishment.
As a Mom, I see that patience, love and understanding when my kid does yet another asshole-ish thing but I can still recognize his underlying fear and know that he is a complex person learning and working through shit. As his mother, I won’t ever give up on him, and will always want to be there with love that will hopefully one day help him believe in himself as a kind and capable person who will chose to do more good and less harm.
Imagine if we took that burden on as a society? Imagine if we all looked at each other as family, with a fraction of the love we have for our children? Would we still have so much senseless violence? Would we still see strangers as “other” or label each other without seeing the complexity and goodness in others? I can’t imagine we would.
This is why I love Montessori schooling so much for my children. (I always love to answer questions about this. Or check out what else I’ve written about it.) This is why I choose to practice positive parenting techniques.
This is why I am a liberal who believes in helping and understanding the less fortunate above those of us who already have enough.
This is why I believe in a corrections system that focuses on rehabilitation and teaches those to “fish” with the proper values and ethics to make a positive difference in their communities, rather than creating a school-to-prison pipeline that just breeds criminality rather than finding that nugget of goodness in a kid from which to build.
I listened to an officer last week in our Citizens Academy (follow my posts about that here) class tell a story about working with a juvenile in court who had been through the system for so long, he knew all the security procedures involved in preparing to enter court. He noticed the officer’s cell phone and expressed an interest in martial arts and thought it was nice that the officer had a mixed family. He demonstrated an appreciation for the family and community he lacked and interest in a healthy positive activity he never had the chance to try. These are access points where we can see the potential for positive change in someone, even from a brief interaction. But most likely, that young life will fall through the cracks and (statistically speaking) end up either dead or in prison. There is opportunity for change, but we need to recognize it and be able and willing to act on it.
I talk to a lot of people who have differing beliefs on how to change our country for the better. I have friends who supported both Trump and Sanders and of course, Hillary. One overarching similarity I find is that we all value kindness and community in our personal lives. Let’s start with that.