Today is the day. We can no longer explain away, excuse, or blame somebody else for the state of our family, friends, communities, and world. No, it’s not in the water. No, there’s no mad man behind the curtain manipulating the chaos we are experiencing. We have seen the enemy, and it really is us.
Our children are being killed every day with guns—those legally bought and traded, and those stolen and too easily obtained. School used to be safe but now fear and uncertainty are a constant distraction. Active shooter training is part of the curriculum like reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Arguments abound on whether teachers and school personnel ought to be armed since students and intruders continue to breach the sanctity of our schools. That some districts have more armed officers than counselors ought to keep us up at night, if it doesn’t already.
Our neighbors are languishing in overcrowded holding pens, for lack of a better word, waiting and hoping for a chance at freedom and opportunity, but dying instead from their desperation.
When there are more mass murders than days this year, surely, we, the people, must stop our “warring madness” as one songwriter puts it, long enough to stop the hand wringing, pontificating, in-fighting, foolishness—and do more to heal our nation and ourselves.
If I didn’t know better, I’d buy into “the world has gone mad” rhetoric, but I do know better. We can lament, bemoan, whine, and repeat the maladies that plague us, but we must do more, demand more, invest in more—more funding, attention, courage, caring and kindness–if we want things to change.
Here’s what I know today: we cannot sustain a civil society without more resources and attention to our mental health. There are too many natural and weather-related disasters that topple our sense of safety, belonging, accomplishment, and normalcy for us to keep allowing state, national, and law enforcement budgets to be slashed when more, not less, intervention and treatment are needed.
My heart breaks every time a 911 call for someone experiencing a mental break ends in a preventable tragedy. Like on my favorite television shows, Station19 and Grey’s Anatomy, every community needs an emergency response team for de-escalation on certain kinds of calls.
Please know I’m not advocating putting our first responders in harm’s way but rather having somebody on the scene who can calm, intervene, and/or decipher what’s going on. When police and sheriff departments say they can’t afford these teams, I say they can’t afford not to have them.
Secondly, school counselors are not a magic bullet for ending school shootings but they’re pretty amazing. These folks are overwhelmed with what students and families are dealing with—homelessness, poverty, addictions—both the children and parents, abuse of all kinds, too many cases and not enough time. Caring and concern is what I’m advocating here–quality, not quantity.
In addition to higher wages for teachers, I’m campaigning for better support and mentoring for new teachers. I’m also asking that a special place be created for folks who don’t teach but keep making more paperwork for those who do.
Finally, we’ve learned that if someone is hellbent on wreaking havoc, like this week’s Nashville school shooter, it’s difficult to stop them but we must pay closer attention to the warning signs, call for help earlier, and pass gun control laws that make sense.
Tornadoes, floods, blizzards, fires, mudslides, gun violence, and devastating storms this month—things that literally took our breath away, but we can see and help heal our world, and our brothers and sisters. Together we can.
Looking for inspiration and straight talk with a bit of attitude? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more, and now every first and third Sunday on WOJG.com 94.7 FM, she’s hosting her very own podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, & One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There to Here.” In each episode she’ll share some of her favorite people who’ll inspire and uplift you. She’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful, so slow down, you’re in for a treat!