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Guns or Mental Health? Is that the Question?

April 2, 2013

Is it a matter of guns or mental health? Since tragic shootings have increased, Americans have divided into camps about how to best reform our country: gun control or better mental health care?

As the debate rages, I can’t help but wonder how and why we’ve become a one-issue country. Is there a single, simple solution to keeping our children safe? Can we stop someone from shooting bullets into a movie theater, a school, or a grocery store parking lot with one reform? Of course not. So why do so many people insist that their camp paves the way to peace with offering only one solution?

Unfortunately, America has become a country divided. We are blue or red. We are saved or unsaved.  We are followers of CNN or Fox news. We are almost never both.  Where is the middle ground? What will it take to accept and understand that differences are okay? Differences are, in fact, the fabric of American culture.

In the wake of such devastating shootings, we must stop to consider the possibility that one answer is no answer at all. So what is? I can’t possibly know, but as a parent, an educator, and a writer, I created ten starting points that have nothing to do with gun control, mental illness, stopping the development of technology, cutting violence from video games, or arming ourselves with an arsenal of defense mechanisms.

  1. Listen to our children.
  2. Find a spiritual path.
  3. Understand yourself.
  4. Create time to think.
  5. Develop healthy relationships.
  6. Respect each other.
  7. Breathe in nature.
  8. Live and be in the moment.
  9. Take time to unplug.
  10. Love.

It may sound like new-age, hippie rhetoric, but nothing gets more basic than understanding one’s self. We can’t stop shooters if we can’t recognize what’s lacking in our society. When people focus on single issues and worry about who’s right and who’s wrong, they’ve lost site of basic fundamentals like respecting and listening to each other.

Our country’s become so ‘advanced’ that we’ve lost sight of simplicity and of ourselves.

 

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