Moving Past Our Fear-Based Mentality.

Via Benjy Wertheimer
on Dec 15, 2012
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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:
Australia: 0.14
Germany:  0.19
USA: 2.97

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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About Benjy Wertheimer

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Benjy Wertheimer is an award-winning musician, composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist equally accomplished on tabla, congas, percussion, esraj, guitar, and keyboards. Benjy has toured and recorded with such artists as Krishna Das, Deva Premal and Miten, Jai Uttal, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, virtuoso guitarist Michael Mandrell, and renowned bamboo flute master G. S. Sachdev. He has also opened for such well-known artists as Carlos Santana, Paul Winter, and Narada Michael Walden. Benjy is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed world fusion ensemble Ancient Future. / Beginning his musical studies at age 5, starting with piano and later violin and flamenco guitar, Benjy has studied Indian classical music for over 25 years with some of the greatest masters of that tradition including Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Ali Akbar Khan and Z. M. Dagar. Along with the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, Benjy was a contributing composer and member of the Zakir Hussain Rhythm Experience. / For over five years, Benjy scored music for the internationally syndicated NBC series Santa Barbara. His CD Circle of Fire reached #1 on the international New Age radio charts in 2002. Now living in Portland, Oregon, he now tours around the world leading kirtan with his wife Heather (as the duo Shantala). /


3 Responses to “Moving Past Our Fear-Based Mentality.”

  1. Sheltiesrule says:

    These horrific incidents are not an accident. We must change our fear-based culture of violence. Thank you for your words.

  2. Thank you … it is my hope that these words can play at least a small part in the healing that I pray will come, and in spurring us on to finally change the gun-crazed ethos that has been such a blight on our country. THE TIME IS NOW – THE TIME HAS COME!!!!

  3. […] In the wake of this week’s tragedy, and the long line of mass shooting incidents over the last 10 years, it’s time for an open, rational dialogue on the usage/role of guns in the Unites States. […]