In the wake of the recent tragedies at the shopping mall in Oregon and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, I’d like to propose a very simple solution – kindness.
Mass shootings like this always bring up a lot of issues and concerns. People always want to know “why” and then just as quickly blame access to weapons. I have very vague opinions on gun control. I don’t know how to shoot a gun, I’ve never spent much time around them, I don’t know many people that own one. And those that do don’t make a big show of it. I find them to be scary – they are deadly weapons, after all. And I do have to question the thought process of people that keep them in a house with children, where they can be accessed by these children, even by accident.
I do not, however, think that stricter gun control laws will have a major affect on this type of horrible violence. Strict gun control, I think, will go the same way as prohibition. Yes, guns should be regulated, and so should who is able to legally purchase them, but weapons have always been a hot commodity on the black market. If someone wants a gun, they will find a way to get one.
With that being said, there’s always the sentiment of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Which just goes to show that the problem isn’t the weapon, or the access to the weapon – the problem lies in the answer to the “Why?” we all ask ourselves after it’s over. In these situations, I think it’s fairly safe to surmise that mental illness is a real, legitimate issue that needs to be addressed in order to work towards stopping this type of tragedy from recurring. However, addressing mental illness is difficult. It will take education, money, and an acceptance of fixing a very difficult and subjective problem by our political leaders. It’s much easier for them to just debate something concrete and easy – like gun control. While I do think this is something we as a society and country need to address, in the meantime there’s another approach to changing our culture – more kindness.
Now, my suggestion – to be kinder to one another – probably isn’t going to solve the issue here, certainly not quickly, at least. I know that. Simply being nice to people, especially people you don’t know, isn’t going to solve issues of mental-illness-gone-off-the-deep-end, if someone is seriously disturbed, has gone that far down the rabbit hole, complimenting his or her shoes while randomly passing them on the street probably isn’t going to make much of a dent.
However, I do believe that if we, as a society, start committing some more random acts of kindness, small acts and big acts, we can create an environment, over time, where perhaps fewer random acts of violence occur. And, most importantly, people going out of their way to be kind to one another, are more likely to notice when something is off, when someone is upset – legitimately troubled. And, if we’re accustomed to being kind to one another, to caring for one another, to helping one another – perhaps we can avert further tragedy.
Just some food for thought folks. Pay it forward, you never know who’s day, week, month, life you’re making with one tiny, selfless, act of kindness.