“We are experiencing a bone-chilling sadness.”
“I’m heartbroken ... terrible and horrific.”
These are words spoken and felt from people all over the world on the tragedy that took place in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14.
“Unspeakable” is a word that captures the image of 20 families having to spend the week before Christmas shopping for caskets for their babies – and six more families planning funerals for their adult wife, daughter, sister or aunt. Unspeakable!
THE MAINSTREAM media didn’t waste any time putting possible blame on either gun control or mental illness. Those discussions may or may not resurface to the point that our political leaders have the will to actually do something about it. I think it’s safe to say the highly controversial gun control issue is back on the front burner. What the results will be is yet to be seen.
It’s troubling to me that we, as a country, seem to be more reactive vs. proactive. Major calamities happen in cities all over the United States – almost daily.
In the past four years, other mass-murder incidents have taken place by men 30 years old and younger. The questions posed, after the fact, reveal troubling histories of these people that span a period of years, some as early as their adolescent years. We already are beginning to hear that this man’s parents struggled with his “difficulties.”
Why are we always playing catch-up? Why is it that people crying out for help, for years, never get it until something horrible happens? It’s a cycle we hear over and over again, and the questions never get answered.
The more recent tragedy is definitely unspeakable and heartbreaking, and has resonated among millions all over the world – I believe because of the large number of babies murdered at the same time. It’s horrifying, to say the least.
But consider this report from the Children’s Defense Fund: In 2008 and 2009, 5,740 children – “one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years” – were killed by guns. In 2008, 408 of them were younger than age 15; 148 were younger than 10.
One year later, 354 under 15 and 151 under 10 were killed by gunfire. A total of 34,387 children were wounded by guns in those two years. Now that is unspeakable. But are the mainstream media talking about this?
The so-called fiscal cliff has been a train wreck waiting to happen for many years. And now our top political leaders are scrambling to meet a deadline with a compromise they both can live with. Once again, reactive vs. proactive.
TOO OFTEN, people look to their leaders for validation, acceptance and the go-ahead to do something meaningful and significant in terms of helping to resolve some of our societal problems.
I would like to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, make a decision to be a part of the solution on an unspeakable issue. There are many unspeakable issues you can wrap your heart and soul around, you know? We can no longer wait for our political leaders to solve the world’s problems. I think we already know their track record.
A New Year is almost upon us, and some of you will make New Year’s resolutions. I won’t suggest you do that. I would say, why not make a commitment? Write it down, and tell a trustworthy friend or family member about that commitment and then stick to it. No longer can we wait for our neighbor to do something about the problems we face. We must take action ourselves.
School parent-teacher association meetings desperately need parents to attend and get involved. Organizations that serve youths need more volunteers. Young black boys, in particular, need black adult positive male role models and mentors. Young girls need more positive women role models and mentors. Intergenerational efforts are needed because our youth are so out of touch with their history.
Our juvenile court judges need pastors, ministers and community leaders to serve as surrogates to troubled youth who do not have a mother and/or father at home. They also need churches and faith-based organizations to provide more community-oriented intervention programs they can refer these young people to.
These are the unspeakable issues that are solvable if we are proactive. If none of these suggestions compel you to do something, then prepare your own list. Certainly there are hundreds of other social concerns that you would be willing to put your
heart and soul into to help make a difference. That is my challenge to you.
IN SPITE OF the unspeakable horror that took place on that Friday morning, I am optimistic about the future because I believe in the hearts of people. There is no doubt: Evil lurks around us, and may be as close as your shadow, but love always will overcome evil. Only God can give us the hope we need to get through challenging times.
New legislation or political commentaries will not bring the peace we desperately need in the face of evil. I find comfort in Psalm 146:5. I bet you have a special verse or message that you find comfort in too. Have a merry Christmas!
(The writer is a radio talk show host, author, life coach and mental health advocate in Augusta.)