Desperately Seeking Solutions

Another attack at a theater today–this time in Tennessee, apparently armed with a gun, a hatchet, and pepper spray.

Apparently, this guy wanted to get everyone.

This, directly following another shooter at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, where two people were killed.

No one was killed in today’s attack, and I find myself exhaling only a half-sigh of relief.

This, less than two months after the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and just over two weeks since the shooting of two marines and a sailor in Chattanooga.

According to the Grc’s Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 215 mass shootings this year, with a “mass shooting” defined “when four or more people are shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” (The link takes you to their main page.)

Today, the fifth of August, marks 217 days so far this year, and there have been 215 mass shootings, with only a handful of them actually making the news.

What. The. Hell.

When Columbine happened,  America was in mourning. How could this happen?  Everyone tried to figure out what went wrong–why it happened, how to stop it from happening again.

And now, sixteen years later, it seems like we’ve stopped trying to figure out what went wrong, why it happened, how to stop it from happening again. We’re quick to point fingers and assign blame: hate groups, religious terrorists, fanaticism, mental illness. But we’re reluctant to TRY anything.

I remember a few years ago when there was a shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Perhaps my memory’s failing, but it didn’t seem that this particular shooting garnered the attention that the Charleston church  did. I remember reading somewhere that the shooters believed they were killing Muslims.

Not only were they armed and hateful, but they were armed and hateful and STUPID.

This sort of violence isn’t isolated: it isn’t limited to one religious group, one race, one subset of the population.  This is systemic, this complete lack of respect for life. A desire to not just put down, but to actually kill another human being. This is a disease in our blood, that courses through our veins, and the violence is merely a manifestation of a much deeper disease.

Like a staph infection.

I’m not advocating for the removal of guns, but we need to restart conversations that look at POSSIBILITIES of making a difference.

We need to start having conversations. Conversations devoid of emotionalism, of finger pointing, of blaming. Conversations that have one goal and one goal only: to treat the disease so that the symptoms will dissipate.

A friend of mine once said that the world would be a happier place if we confiscated all guns and replaced them with Haldol blow-darts.

I don’t think he’s wrong.

At this point, if buying every person in America an ice cream cone would alleviate the problem, even in the slightest, I’d be all for it. I’d be digging up change to buy everyone I could an ice cream cone.

But I don’t think that would do it. That would be too simple.

We don’t have to fear outside terrorists, we’re killing ourselves right here, and it’s not just with guns.

Homicide, suicide, domestic violence,bullying, rape, child abuse, assault and battery.

THIS is how America will die. Not because the Democrats or the Republicans get control of whatever offices. Not because we’re being bombed by outside forces. But by this.

We’re drowning in violence.

Violence is cyclical, and, with the exception of some (possible) incredibly rare cases, is entirely learned.

How do we interrupt the cycle? Focus on Pre-K? Education? After school programs? Mental health? Ensure teachers, medical staff, and social workers have the resources, the means, and the follow-up to report abuse?

Instead of enforcing full funding for public schools–funding, mind you, is already required by MS law, only there’s no enforcement for it–, the bright stars of the Mississippi legislature, when faced with Initiative 42 which would enforce that required funding, offered, as a distraction, Alternative 42.

Alternative 42 would require the state legislature to establish, maintain and support “an effective system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe.[2] Unlike Initiative 42, Alternative 42 does not empower the judiciary to enforce the amendment’s mandate, provide for “an adequate… system of free public schools,” nor inscribe a “fundamental right to educational opportunity” for each child in the Mississippi Constitution.

My bold added. The legislature, on a whim, can prescribe conditions and limitations of funding.

That sure sounds like a plan to get us from the bottom.

[Source: http://ballotpedia.org/Mississippi_Public_School_Support_Amendments,_Initiative_42_and_Alternative_42_(2015)]

Education? Not a priority.

Well, maybe we should focus on social workers, case managers, and those who can protect children, remove them from dangerous situations, and perhaps get them into a more stable and loving environment. To intervene, and, as the case may be, teach them that violence isn’t an option.

A DHS Case Worker with the State of Mississippi starts at 26,665.30 per year. That’s $12.82 an hour.

A DHS Family Protection Worker I starts at 23,643.58 per year.  That’s about $11.37 an hour.

(Source: Mississippi Job Board for DHS Family Protection Worker I  and DHS Case Worker  (Current as of 8/5/2015).

That’s not a livable wage even in Mississippi. Intervention? Not a priority.

Mental health funding is so abysmal I can’t even bring myself to find sources.

This isn’t just a Mississippi problem–it’s an American one.

And we need to have conversations. Solution-oriented conversations.

And do something.

Speak out. Stand up. Vote.

Do something.

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2 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Solutions”

  1. We live in a culture that glories violence – whether it’s through entertainment (movies, games, music) or through the main stream media. We are also a nation of war wagers…..soon, 15 years straight of war….with many innocent lives taken in the process – domestic as well as foreign. It seems to me that these two things alone can account for what is going on. The national focus is on violence. There is no national leadership trying to bring peace, reconciliation, and healing. If anything, our country is more divisive and divided than ever. It’s so sad….

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  2. I think that our culture definitely reinforces it, and, when parents are unable to raise their own kids (addictions, overworking so that they can put food on the table, mental illness, etc), the television teaches kids. I think our culture is more reflective than causative, but it further reinforces the idea that violence is okay. Our “justice system” has become a “revenge system,” and when we put people in prison who have committed minor crimes–non-violent ones–they come out worse than they went in.

    I agree that our country is more divisive and divided than ever, and we’re taught (especially by the news) that people who are our opponents or those who have different opinions are our enemies, and that personal insults and vitriolic rants are not only acceptable, but celebrated.

    We need a sweeping change, a mindset and cultural change that focuses more on solutions than violence, whether it’s verbal or physical.

    We need an infusion of compassion to begin. I’m just not sure how we can get that.

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