where do we go from here?

I realize what I am about to type might have a polarizing effect on my audience, but my hope is that you can begin (or continue) to examine desperate times with reason and use your power for the betterment of our society. Some things need to be said and this is the most open forum I have where I can speak out about what is going wrong in this country. I write this not only as a mother, but as a sister, daughter, wife, friend, and human being. This particular incident took place less than a mile from where I used to work. I know people who went there, and people who live there, and I feel overwhelmingly obligated to say something. I remember when Columbine was unfathomable and shocking. Now, some shootings barely incite a reaction. We simply cannot let this cycle continue.

Yesterday, the news was flooded with the occurrence of yet another school shooting. My deepest sympathies go out to the families who were affected in this tragedy and also to the students who survived and witnessed their friends, peers, and leaders suffer horrific and senseless demise. But sympathies only go so far. Thoughts and prayers are an easy way for people to absolve their conscious from guilt and then continue to extremely protect or protest whatever it is they believe. We have to stop thinking things are cut and dry, black and white.

Here are some things you can do simultaneously:

Sympathize loss and also want change

Protect your rights and also want to protect your families

Blame mental health and also blame weapons

Sympathizing is a reflex in these situations. Of course you feel for victims and for those directly in harm’s way. But what happens after you send your prayers and thoughts and words of encouragement? Aside from writing that in a comment on a social media post, what are you actually doing? Like the old adage, actions speak louder than words. Educate yourself on facts. Learn what laws exist. Then become passionate about contacting the appropriate channels to change them.

One of the next steps people take is in defense of the second amendment and how it needs to be protected. Logically examining the amendments, they were ratified over 200 years ago. It is safe to consider that at that point in time, the amendment served a specific purpose relevant to the state of the country, and certain weapons 1) were used with different intent and 2) didn’t even exist. In 1789, we were post-Revolution and each person had to be ready to fight for newly found freedom.  Law must catch up to the modern world that we live in and the advancements that have been made, for better or for worse. An umbrella amendment cannot suffice in the world we live in.

Another route people go to justify these situations is that we need stronger mental health examinations, resources, and solutions. I agree. Others blame weapons used in these moments. I agree. Mental health aid and access to weapons are not mutually exclusive problems – they are both flawed and need to be remedied. Review laws in your state and see there are lacking resources for caring for mentally ill individuals. Then review the laws in your state and see how easy it is to obtain weapons (some states, like FL, without quantity restrictions) and you’ll see there is room for improvement across the board.

So what now? First, stop spreading extreme beliefs that there is ONE problem and ONE solution. It is way beyond that. Humans, at our most capable, can initiate change and growth. At our most divisive, we can propel hate and harm. Be better!

In the meantime, you can also contact your Senators and share your thoughts on change. In FL, you can directly tweet him and him, and the governor while you’re at it. Silence is not golden; naivete is not bliss. Speak up!

With love,

Erika

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