My eyes are flooded with tears, my heart is broken and raging anger and sadness pierce my very bones.
In the wake of the news of shootings just miles from my home in Clackamas, Oregon, and the brutal slaughter at a freaking elementary school in Connecticut, I feel utterly shattered.
And, as I (like so many of us, I’m sure) try to reassemble these broken shards, I’m reminded of how this kind of random shooting doesn’t happen nearly as often in the lands we just visited (Germany and Australia)—and it’s not an accident!!
I invite all of us to try something like this:
1. Let yourself cry, yell, scream and grieve; let those close to you do the same and support them with as much love as you can muster.
2. Take a moment to send your thoughts and loving support to all those who have undergone such a tragedy…I firmly believe this will make a difference.
3. Take another moment to ask yourself how you might offer beauty, love, music, art and service to this world—in any way you can. Allow the sadness, anger, frustration, and compassion to fuel the power of these loving gifts. To me, this is the most skillful response we can have to such mind-numbing tragedy.
4. Help to spread the word that it’s time to look for a real, tangible way to move towards keeping guns out of the hands of people that would do this. I’d be the first to admit that almost every approach will have its weaknesses, yet it is incumbent on us to try. No human system is without its flaws, but again, I know major headway can be made. Just look at the random shooting statistics in Australia and Germany…it’s not an accident!!
Sending my love and wishes for healing to all of you reading this,
As a footnote, I’d like to offer a quick look at 2011 gun homicide statistics from the UNODC via The Guardian (UK)—a highly reliable source:
Homicide by firearm rate per 100,000 in:
Hmm…looked at another way, more than 21 times as many people are killed by guns in the USA per 100,000 population as in Australia, and nearly 16 times as many people are killed by guns in the USA as in Germany.
No, the USA is not the worst in per capita gun homicide (28th in the world—maybe a little solace there) but I don’t believe that’s good enough. Well over 9,000 people were killed in the USA last year by guns…I think we can and should do all we can to improve that. I believe there are ways to change this rampant abuse of lethal force.
At their core, they require moving away from antiquated thinking and imagining the possibilities of living in a culture where people are not armed—a culture in which we have grown up beyond a “wild West”or fear-based mentality.
One idea that comes from Australia, a country whose government impressed me greatly in many respects during my tour there, is worth noting here. There was a massacre there 16 years ago (the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996). In a completely spontaneous and powerful protest, thousands of people surrendered their guns to police stations and Australian citizens chose to support a major strengthening of gun control laws, which remain in force and are respected to this day.
Ed: Bryonie Wise
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