by Hope Mucklow, blogger and author of Rojo, The Baby Panda at the Zoo
February 15, 2018, Jugal Patel complied some very disturbing numbers that more than 400 individuals have been shot in over 200 school shootings in an article published in The New York Times after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy this week in Parkland, Florida.
This is so tragic. Anyone who teaches public school understands more than the general public. But the problem is even worse. Each and every day can be a war zone in our schools. The hostility, anger, disrespect, lack of motivation and pain of which these students attempt to learn in is rampant. Movies, video games, and certain music stars who glorify violence and killing have too powerful of an influence on many of the students. Guns are neutral. They are just the tool and scapegoat for a very deep societal problem. Yes, gun safety and responsibility should be a high priority, but let’s also focus on the underlying problems that lead to their misuse.
Too often reactions focus on blame, political issues, and trying to undo the horrid history. May I suggest channeling energies on something else? Instead of using a recent tragedy as fodder to support political beliefs by arguing and fussing over a new law or cause, commit to focus on your local sphere of influence to make a difference. This means healing your own personal issues so that you can respond better in each and every personal encounter you make.
That begins with reinstating basic manners like taking turns and listening respectfully to one another.
I wrote this poem for both my daughter and myself. Birthing her surfaced all those life long hurts that still gaped open wide and therefore crippled my ability to truly love and teach her well.
I understood that my behavior communicated more to her than any of my didactic lecturing ever would. Singing this poem (yes, I wrote a tune to accompany it) helped to calm both of us down in addition to reminding us that which we needed to do.
Guns, social media, games, alcohol, drugs, smart phones etc. are all neutral. It is how they are used that can be problematic. Seriously, one can dredge up data on use of each mentioned on how much good they have accomplished. Likewise history can be revisited on how fruitless instituted laws have been to curb harmful usage of each.
So before you jump on whatever side of the gun control debate that you believe it, spend time reflecting on how you handle your emotions, channel your energies, and spend your time. Because you, yes you, a single individual make more of a difference than you may think. Antoinette Tuff sure made a difference by talking a gun man into turning himself in to get help rather than to fire at the learning center that she works at.
Jordan Shapiro wrote an article The Truth About Parenting and Smartphones that exemplifies my point with cell phones. I highly recommend reading it and considering all he has to say and how it pertains to this week’s news.
We all must chose what values we will subscribe to AND live them accordingly. There’s nothing worse than a preacher who doesn’t practice what he or she preaches.
If you are obsessed with your problems and needs, I’m sorry, but you are contributing to the underlying problems behind the tragedies. If you are willing to engage and care about others then you might make a positive difference. There’s a classic world known book and popular man of history that has a lot to say about this.
Consider joining me in facing your life’s pain, healing, learning from it, and choosing to be content instead. Find your favorite art form to convert those experiences into beauty that uplifts, encourages, and edifies rather than fussing and fuming. There’s a time and place to address problems, but most are handling this week’s news poorly and could stand to consider my point.