I know this blog is going to make some people mad. For some of you this will make you mad in a way that is helpful. For some of you this will make you mad in a way that proves my point. I make no claim to be “all knowing” in regards to school shootings, I may be off base, I may not. But I make no apologies for what you are about to read. Please understand that these views are mine and have not been previewed by Celebrate Recovery leadership as a representation of the views of Celebrate Recovery. The views expressed are mine.
Recently the discussion of the 2nd amendment has hit a new level as a result of the latest school shooting in Parkland Florida, another tragedy, which has become all too familiar in the United States. This post is not going to take a position one way or the other as to whether or not people should be able to own an AR-15.
I have decided to focus on something I feel has become a scapegoat for many people who are trying to argue both sides of the argument. I am referring to those of us who struggle with our mental health. One side says that it is mental illness that caused the shooting. Another side says that it is the drugs that the mentally ill person takes that makes them homicidal and that the drugs are to blame. Then there is the discussion of how to do, or not do, background checks on a person’s mental state before they can buy a weapon in the first place. Ultimately I think these are all important questions that need to be addressed and answered, but if this is where the sole blame lies, we will not stop all of the shootings.
This is why I feel this way:
Two days ago a young man in my community was arrested for threatening to shoot up a school. This person is the same age as my daughter. This person could have been talking about her school. (The press never released that information.)
As a parent this is terrifying. I long for the days when the biggest concern I had for my daughter, when I would drop her off each day at the doors of her school, was centered around whether or not she will be treated nicely on the playground.
Going back to the shooting at Columbine I have watched, with tears in my eyes, the horror of parents and children who have been impacted by these events directly. The tears of relief on the parent’s faces as they are reunited with their children. The anguish on the faces of the parents who were never going to be reunited.
In 2015 I had the honor to meet Nelba Marquez-Greene, LMFT – Executive Director, The Ana Grace Project. Her young daughter, Ana Grace, lost her life in the Sandy Hook shooting. As I listened to her tell her story I remember thinking, “How can she do this? How can she tell this story? How does she get out of bed every day? This woman is far stronger than I could ever imagine being.”
I am at a point where I am afraid. And while fear can be a powerful motivator, it can also lead to poor decisions. My judgment can become clouded by my emotions.
As we race to find a solution as a society to these kinds of tragic events, I ask that we take the time needed to stop and listen.
Listen to facts.
A person who has a mental health issue is far more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than to commit that crime. Mental health is not something to fear. Taking guns out of the hands of people who are not mentally fit to possess them is a good thing. But just because a person has a mental illness doesn’t mean they will hurt someone. It won’t stop the violence to just take the guns out of the hands of the “crazies”.
Stereotypes are not solutions. They impede the process of finding solutions. And the longer we insist on blaming something or someone as a miracle cure for mass shootings, the longer it will be before we can find a solution. THERE IS NO EASY FIX!! And for all my brothers and sisters in the faith who are thinking “Sure there is, they need Jesus.” You are not helping. Yes they need Jesus, but if we place all of the responsibility of school shootings on the devil then we are refusing to take responsibility for our part in the problem. And make no mistake; if you are an adult American you have a part.
Sharing a Facebook post is not activism. Blaming the other side is not helping.
I cannot tell you what all needs to be done to fix this. You cannot tell me exactly what needs to be done to fix this. BUT TOGETHER we can work to find a way to fix this.
So I beg you to stop.
Stop fighting with each other.
Stop and listen.
Stop and remember.
Stop feeling bad but doing nothing.
Stop and plan, and decide what your action is going to be.
Stop waiting for someone else to do it.
We all have something that we can do. Talk to the people in your schools and find out what their needs are. Talk to a child and let them know they matter. Get involved in politics if that is your gifting. Make your community a better place to live in some way so that people have a reason to have hope. Get educated on the topic; don’t just read editorials that validate your opinions, read statistics, and seek to hear the other side. There are any number of things that you can do. Most don’t even involve money. You matter in this.
Share this post and more importantly comment your ideas. We can’t do everything, but we can do something.
I want to stop being afraid.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery