My heart is breaking. I can’t read or watch news without tears streaming down my face. Through the tears is an intense anger... a deep disgust.
Almost two years ago I wrote a blog called “the blood splashes.” The blog was inspired by a piece written by David Sedaris on the suicide of his sister. Sedaris reflects on a conversation with his dad: ““I don’t know that it had anything to do with us,” my father said. But how could it have not? Doesn’t the blood of every suicide splash back on our faces?”
This quote continues to haunt me, but not in relation to suicide but the never ending string of mass shootings in our society. With each shooting more and more blood covers each of us. We can pretend we don’t see it. We can pretend each of us is not partly responsible for what is happening, but at some point we are all going to be swimming in a pool of blood that covers our country.
I get it people are scared and afraid. People are scared for their children, people are scared of losing their guns which makes them scared for their own safety. We are running around so afraid and pointing fingers at each other, no one is standing up to take action. Each of us is so focused on our selfish interest, we as a society have lost the capacity for empathy.
This year I decided to focus on the word ACTION. While planning and thinking is critical, nothing happens without action. Today I came upon a quote by Norman Vincent Peale: “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”
We are stuck in so much rhetoric we have forgotten the importance of action. We are too busy playing the blame game without any clear actionable items. While it is nice to say thoughts and prayers are going to __________ (fill in the location for the shooting of the week), what our country needs is action based on our compassion and empathy for the person standing next to us.
We are never going to agree 100% on what should happen, but inaction is not acceptable. Choosing inaction is saying you don’t care. I hear you don’t want stricter gun control. Please don’t lecture me on the importance of mental health in the gun debate. I have spent most of my career and now my free time advocating on the state and national level for mental health reform and mental health parity. Sitting at your computer and spouting out the reason for the shooting is because of “crazy” people does nothing to help solve the problem. So if you are set on not having sensible gun reform, be a voice for mental health care… because right now mental health care is not funded in a way to actually combat the problem.
Also please don’t lecture me on how the schools need to do more. Every year more and more responsibility is poured on schools with less and less funding. They are being asked to not only educate but also care for the mental health of students when our society refuses to do it. This is a societal problem, not a school problem.
Inaction and apathy are killing our country. Our selfishness and lack of empathy causes us to be content with not responding in productive and actionable ways. You have a voice and please use it for more than name calling on social media. It is time we all look at the blood that splashes on each of us and determine how we each can be part of the solution.