29 lives ended this weekend as the result of mass murders, and dozens of families are at the bedside of a loved ones who are fighting for their lives.
When I wrote “How To Talk to Your Kids About School Violence” in 2003, never did I imagine I’d be spending the next 16 years helping distraught families, schools, companies and communities deal with unspeakable tragedies like the ones we have witnessed in El Paso and Dayton–and which have become frighteningly common across our nation.
Having suffered the loss of my 21 year-old daughter, Jenna, and started a non-profit foundation in her name, I’ve had the honor and privilege of helping countless thousands of people deal with the traumatic loss of their loved ones. Called in after heinous acts of terrorism including 9-11, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Boston, I’ve been on the front lines, in the trenches and at the epicenter of murderous violence–and I understand the depth and breadth of devastation that it causes.
Needless to say, I have also become an advocate for preventing violence, writing books and appearing on national TV to help educate the general public about how and why mass murder has become commonplace. And what we can do to prevent the violence ravaging our nation. The answers are not simple. Nor are the solutions easy. We could spent the next 16 years debating gun violence, the spread of racism and hatred by our current President, the effects of violent video games, the ravages of gang violence, the homicidal behavior of young white males, the proliferation of domestic violence, the violence driven by poverty in our inner cities, the impotence of our elected officials to make us safer, the agenda of the NRA, etc.. We could argue ad nauseam about whose right, whose a “snowflake, who loves America more and what to do — and end up doing nothing.
In place of doing nothing, giving only our thoughts and prayers, let us chose to honor those whose lives have been senselessly lost and their families by banding together to do something. Anything. Whatever has a fighting chance of curbing violence and saving one child from losing their life, and one family from a lifetime of suffering, let’s try it out. Getting over our self-righteous and over-simple claims that we have the only good solution, sacrificing our financial, political and egotistical interests and deciding to rise up from indifference are not going to be easy. But it’s time. Wouldn’t you agree?
I may or may not be here 16 years from today. But God-willing, my grandsons, nieces and nephews will. Please join me in re-dedicating yourself to whom and whatever you care about in the future by doing everything in your power to end the violence. Today!
To get you started, here are 9 concrete, non-political suggestions you can do right away:
1) Pledge to end the violence in your own heart by calling out any hatred, discrimination, vengeance and injustice you may possess
2) Donate $1, $5, $25 or $100 to an organization in your community or our nation that is doing something to prevent violence
3) Take bold steps to tear down walls and build bridges in your neighborhood, community, workplace and our nation and world
4) Use your voice and become a more ardent advocate for peace by voting, speaking out against injustice and standing for a cause
5) Teach your children and grandchildren empathy, humility, compassion, fairness and honesty
6) Develop your ability to listen and consider other people’s perspectives and experiences
7) Don’t allow yourself to be seduced into discriminatory, fear-based beliefs and practices.
8)Call potential danger and brewing violence to the attention of the authorities and ask for their help
9) Cultivate inner peace and kindness through religious, humanitarian and/or spiritual practices
Photo Credit: NBC News