Imagine a future in which elementary schools are attacked by men with guns who have lost even the most basic respect for human life. These men, so warped by the violence depicted in the news, popular culture, the internet, and even video game, take to playing a sick game of their own in which they prey on the lives of the most innocent among us in savage attacks. In this future U.S., society has become so plagued by random acts of violence and mass shootings that some cities are considering placing emergency tourniquet kits in public places in a desperate attempt to save innocent lives. This future, rife with misery and near-daily news of despicable, horrible acts, is now.
This week began with news of another mass shooting. This time at a Waffle House in the Nashville. Just a few weeks ago there was news out of San Diego that their city council is considering posting tourniquet kits in public spaces so that they can be better prepared when these seemingly inevitable mass shootings occur. These are dark days in the United States and we have no one to blame for them but ourselves.
For decades, we have been celebrating violence as a nation through our television shows, movies, music, video games, and sports. We have attached violence to masculinity as if the one was inherent in the other and inseparable. We’ve created gun laws that are less strict than driving laws. We have desensitized ourselves to violence and made the tools for violence readily available. And now we wonder why we have a problem.
If we want to leave the dystopian future that is now, then there is not just one thing we must do, there are many. But all of these things – from enacting common-sense gun legislation to improving mental health services to calling for a reduction of violence in media – do boil down to a single thing: restoring respect for human life.
We must relearn holding life sacred. We must recapture the desire to love and be kind to one another simply because it is the right thing to do. We must teach our children to be sensitive and gentle – yes, even our boys. We must care for our mentally ill. We must encourage compassion. We must sow the seeds of peace as we once sowed the seeds of violence. We must work toward a brighter future.
I hope you will join with me in pledging to treat one another with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Together, we can transform the U.S. and the world. Real change is possible. We just need to want it badly enough to be willing to improve how we treat one another. I love you. Please love one another.
Here’s to a better tomorrow.