It All Begins With Love – For Ourselves, and One Another

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I had a relaxing weekend. More relaxing than I’ve seen in months. It seems there were several times when I asked my wife if there was anything we needed to do, because I felt I had a lot more time on my hands than normal. I could get used to that. It felt good.

That said, there is no way I can ignore the carnage that took place within our nation over the weekend. Twenty-nine people dead in two mass shootings, not to mention additional acts of violence in Chicago and other cities across the country. The media will focus on El Paso and Dayton because that’s where the most people were killed in each incident. But let’s be honest – one is too many.

We watch the news of these massacres in shock, wondering what goes through people’s minds to make them do such things, and thankful it didn’t happen in our own community. Well, this time it did. The shooting in Dayton occurred a mere 15 miles from home. In fact, my route to work this morning will take me 100 yards from the site where nine people died Sunday morning.

I try never to get political in my posts, and this one will be no exception. It was my disdain for online political spats that led me to write a motivational post each day. I sincerely believe we can all achieve anything we want in life, and we truly deserve the best. But all those things don’t matter if we’re out shopping or enjoying an evening on the town and somebody comes in with a gun to end it all.

At some point, we all have to either accept this as a normal part of life or stand up and be heard. That time has come for me, personally, and I will choose the latter. That doesn’t mean the focus of my writing will change – it won’t. But I wanted to take one day to put my thoughts into words in the hope that I can help spread some shred of insight and maybe even some inspiration. So, here goes.

When something like this happens, we rush to our favorite go-to explanation. And, it always seems to boil down to two factors – mental health and guns. Two completely opposing explanations, each with its own ardent supporters and political agenda. And make no mistake, the two are both a huge part of the problem. But on their own, they can’t fully explain what’s happening in this country.

Yes, we do have a mental health crisis in this nation. It stems from our healthcare issues in general. When you allow people to die from curable diseases or price their lifesaving medicine so high they can’t afford it, that mentality doesn’t stop with physical healthcare. It’s exacerbated in mental healthcare because we can’t see those issues on a CT scan. It’s voodoo – we can’t understand it, so we tend to look the other way.

We also have a problem with accessibility to guns. I own a gun, and I fully support the Second Amendment as it was written. But I will never support the need for a private citizen to own a gun that was designed as or modeled after a weapon of war. Let’s be perfectly honest here. Assault rifles were designed for a single purpose – killing the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

I know that last paragraph will ruffle a few feathers among the most ardent defenders of gun rights. I don’t care, and I won’t apologize. Until somebody can show me a single constructive or practical use for a weapon that’s not legal for hunting in any state, and that can cause such carnage in a matter of seconds, I will stand by my opinion. And I will force that opinion on every one of my elected officials.

It goes without saying that when you allow such a weapon to fall into the hands of somebody who’s predisposed to violence because of a mental health issue, bad things can happen. Now, factor in overt racism, hate, and fear, and the result is not only predictable, it’s inevitable.

We all tend to seek out opinions that support what we believe. And, no matter what you believe, you can find somebody whose words will bolster that belief. Most times, it just strengthens our resolve. But when our beliefs are based in racism, hate, or fear, it’s like pouring gas on a fire. It just builds and builds until it’s completely out of control.

That’s why we all need to be careful of the things we say, especially in an open forum where we have no idea who may be listening or what message they’re trying to glean from our words. And the greater our audience, the greater our responsibility for making sure we spread a positive message. That starts at the very top and works its way down to each and every one of us.

If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, we can’t point our fingers at anybody else. Yet, by the same token, if we don’t hold our community and national leaders accountable, we fail in our responsibility to demand that they represent our interests, our beliefs, and our values. We should not only expect this of those we place in a position of trust – we should demand it.

This has been an extra long post, and for that I’ll apologize. It’s not something you can address in a few short paragraphs, and it’s not something any of us can fix on our own. But the souls of 29 innocent people are crying out for this to end. If we look the other way, we’ve not only allowed them to die in vain, we’ve condoned the next massacre. Maybe it’ll happen someplace else. Maybe it won’t.

There are no easy answers to this problem. But I firmly believe we have to recognize each of the factors that allow such things to happen and tackle them simultaneously. We need better access to mental health care, and we need zero access to weapons designed for mass killing. And we all need to stand up against hate in all its evil forms, openly and loudly. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines any longer.

I’m sure I’ve offended a few people in this post and, as I said earlier, I won’t apologize for that. What I will say is that we’re all on this planet together, and we all are equally entitled to our own beliefs. What matters the most isn’t whether we agree or disagree on any one point – it’s how we handle those disagreements. We can set a positive example or not. Either way, the world is watching.

That’s all for now. Have a blessed day.

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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