It’s hard to believe that in a country as great as America, people could commit such heinous acts against one another. I’m referring in particular to the recent rampage of James Holmes on the patrons of the Aurora Theater on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. With no rational explanation, he randomly opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 58. Americans are outraged and perplexed – many calling for the death penalty. Referring to him as evil, trash, worthless, scum, and the like, they are seeking justice against on one who committed of the most senseless acts of violence in our country in years.
It is difficult to see any reason for such brutality yet in cases such as these there are many commonalities shared by the shooters. Many come from families of violence, abuse and/or neglect. They’ve demonstrated antisocial behavior at an early age. Some suffer from substance abuse including prescription drugs. Others have been bullied, ridiculed and humiliated and harbor feelings of powerlessness and anger. Still others view themselves as victims of a current injustice, whether real or imagined. In any event, these acts are always premeditated and are committed against strangers. Very often, there is a history of mental illness.
So what can and must we do to prevent such acts from occurring in the future. Here are some suggestions:
As parents, we need to take an active role in our children’s lives. Providing a loving, nurturing environment allows them to feel loved, safe, and part of a larger unit. We must also be aware of any troubling behavior and seek immediate help. There is no shame to admitting our children need help. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Teach compassion, empathy, and respect for all human life. People are less likely to hurt others when they can feel their pain. Give them the skills to express how they feel, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to set and achieve meaningful goals, and to build a healthy sense of self. Self-love is a critical factor in determining the course of a child’s life. Teach them self-confidence and the ability to forgive those who hurt them rather than harbor anger and resentment.
As a society:
1. We need to remove the stigma of mental illness and encourage those who are suffering to seek treatment. With proper help many can lead happy, productive lives.
2. Be all inclusive. Shooters are loners with issues of isolation. Sometimes, the concern of one person can have a huge impact on anothers life.
3. Be alert. Take notice of any unusual behavior and report it to the proper authorities. Fifty percent of shooters give a warning, either in the form of threats or a note. If you are privy to such information, take it seriously and get help.
4. Be kind to all human life. Each has value. People are not born bad. Bad things happen to them that change who they are. Their behavior is deplorable but intrinsically they still have value.
5. Don’t judge. When people feel safe in admitting to needing help without fear of being criticized, they are more likely to seek it, thus increasing the chances they will find some degree of healing.
We all need to take an active role in preventing atrocities like this from occurring. Get involved. Be proactive. We can make a difference.
Share your thoughts below.