I've been mulling over the tragic events of the last several weeks.
First the Newtown massacre. 20 little children and 7 adults murdered.
Last Monday, Webster NY firemen ambushed by a gunman who left a note saying he wanted to "burn down the neighborhood and do what I like doing best, killing people".
Then came the deluge of comments over Facebook, Twitter, news media.
"Gun control". "Access to mental health". "Hug your kids now, choose action later". And why. So many people asking why.
And how to prevent this from happening again? What can we do so the next time it happens we don't feel so helpless and lost?
Is it really all about gun control? Maybe. Or maybe not?
My personal opinion is that you don't need an AK-47 to go hunting. It's also my opinion that what we have today is a far cry from our forefathers intentions that created the 2nd Amendment.
I've never been a fan of guns. They terrify me. I've had two encounters with guns. The first time, I shot a target pistol 3 times on a friend's ranch. All 3 times I hit the target so I figured I had nothing left to prove.
My 2nd encounter with a gun is when I was followed out to my car after work and my attacker brandished a gun once I was inside my car (he chased me and I made it to my car before he caught me). Short story short, I started my car, he ran, I followed him and got his license plate #, went back to work and called the police, filed a report and they caught him within 20 minutes. And sentenced him to youth camp since he was under 17 and it was his 3rd offense.
The entire experience terrified me and even though it happened when I was in college, I remember each detail as if it happened yesterday. So now you know how I feel about guns.
Better access to mental health services? Maybe. Or maybe not?
The assumption seems that people with mental issues possess enough self-awareness to seek out assistance. And are limited through lack of funds or lack of insurance or lack of services or a combination of the three. I'm sure some people do reach out...I know many that have. But what if they don't feel they're a danger? What if they feel they are right and everyone else is wrong? What then? Or what about that person that lives their life in quiet solitude, blending into the background, never once raising anyone's suspicions of their mental capacity until the day they snap? How do we catch the ones that are slipping though the cracks?
I honestly feel it's part of our culture. As a whole, Americans can be cruel. They bully. They're rude. Mean-spirited. All you have to do is read Facebook or Twitter or any online column and see the cruel comments tossed out on every topic imagineable. Live and let live or turn the other cheek? Nope, not so much for many of us.
We need more love. More understanding. More tolerance. And by tolerance I don't mean tolerating that which hurts and maims and belittles others. Instead I mean tolerance of people that are different. Look different, talk different, have different viewpoints, live different lifestyles.
Seek out those who are disenfranchised. Who are down on their luck. Who need a shoulder. Who need you.
There are so many beings who are hurting than can benefit by what you have to offer. Volunteer. A day a week. A day a month. An hour a month. Or maybe just a one time gig. What are we doing to make our world a better place and to lighten the load of someone that needs lifting up, whether it be financially, spiritually, educationally or emotionally?
I've been asking myself the same question lately.
In the past, I've volunteered on several occasions. In Virginia, as a short-term Guardian Ad Litem. In Florida as an Adult Literacy Volunteer. Also in Florida as a Kennel-Guide and Foster Puppy Mom...beings don't have to be human to be hurting. All the volunteering I've done in CO has been politically related and while the results were what I'd hoped for, more and more I'm finding the need to reach out to help in areas that benefit people with immediate needs, ie Literacy programs and Habitat for Humanity are two that come to mind.
I've often been accused of being too Pollyanna-ish or always seeing the glass as half-full. And that is very much true. But one thing I do know is that one person spreading love and tolerance is better than one person spreading hate and contempt.
Our actions define us.
Put on the rose-colored glasses with me for just a minute and imagine what would happen if for 15 minutes everyone in the world did one kind deed. Showed one extra person that they cared. That that person mattered. Just for 15 minutes. I think it would be amazing. Maybe a pipe dream, but what an amazing pipe dream.
We're a world of so many differences, but we're alike in that we're all human, all have feelings, all want to be loved, all want to matter.
So just for today, love a little extra. Volunteer. Do a random act of kindness. Give an extra smile away (Matty V says that they're free). Don't flip off the car that cuts you off. Hold back the urge to be mean and snarky. Be a little kinder. Be a little gentler.
We have many huge issues in this world that require solutions we don't always have. We don't know the why. But maybe we can each, in our own way, get started on the how.
Just my 2 cents.