Yesterday was the start of a new week after the needless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, CT, on Dec 14, 2012. I dropped off my child at school yesterday morning and was saddened to see a police car and two officers with their guns standing outside the school in place of the principal who usually greets the children as they arrive at school. I have to admit I was a bit relieved to know that if someone were to start shooting, the police would most likely stop it before it got out of control, and my child’s life might be spared. However, the reality of this situation flattened my spirit, and I felt a profound sadness because of the state of our world. Why so much violence?
When I was in middle school, all I worried about was what I was going to eat for lunch that day, what boy would or would not like me, or if I was going to be chosen on the better team for kickball. Possible bullies at school and getting in trouble at home was all we feared. I was a happy-go-lucky child who looked forward to guitar lessons, girl scouts, and cheerleading after school; I knew all my classmates. If one were to go missing, we all would feel the loss. Now kids have to worry about being shot and killed at school, a place where they should feel safe. What child would not be afraid to go to school in this day in age? How does a child feel when they see policemen in their full uniforms – guns included – standing in front of their school waiting to take aim and shoot if needed?
As I thought about this for a moment, I asked myself who really should hold the guns. On the one hand, I was thankful the police were there with ammunition (for obvious reasons). However, on the other hand, it was a sad and frightening thought that put fear into my heart – the fear of what might happen. Forty or so years ago, this “fear” did not exist as it does today. We have created a society based on fear. We are afraid to take a stand. We are afraid of losing our jobs. We are afraid of going broke. We fear illness, loss, and death. We are afraid to walk outside our front doors. We would rather stay inside our homes and surf online than walk to the neighbor’s house and introduce ourselves. We are afraid to feel our pain, so we fantasize, take drugs, eat in excess, and create chaos for ourselves by becoming addicted to substances, alcohol, recreational drugs, and pills. We submerge ourselves in our I-phones, I-pads, I-pods, other electronic gadgets, the internet, and TV. We have become numb and despondent, uncaring and cold, distant and confused, anxious and rude, lifeless and robotic, and disconnected. And now, we are even more afraid: we are so fearful that we clutch onto our guns (and rights) tighter. When will it end? What will it take to change our present reality? Why are we so afraid?
“Put more restrictions on the purchase of guns,” they say. More restrictions will make it harder to obtain guns, but will it stop the criminals from confiscating and using them? I understand wanting to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but I cannot see any other way to protect myself from an attack unless I am always on alert with my gun. How am I to live always waiting for the impending “attack?” How is that freedom? It is not. It is living in chains and in anxiety each moment.
What about protection from tyranny? Yes, we need to have the right to own guns, just in case of an impending governmental or other assault. But, how many guns do we need to own and hideaway? How many is enough?
Our world is filled with relentless greed. The hearts of the people who run institutions, corporations, and governments these days are fueled by greed, whose driving force is fear. The dollar and bottom line is more important than the person. This cold attitude creates fear – fear to lose our jobs, fear of going broke, and fear of pursuing what we really desire. We lose our authenticity and we embrace someone we are not. We have lost our humanity. It is time to change the world and stop the downward spiral of fear toward love and peace.
More guns will not ultimately solve the root of the problem causing the violence. Imagine, for a moment, a society where everyone owns and carries guns. Would you feel safe knowing that at any moment anyone at any time can start a shoot out because someone else cut them off in traffic, for example? Would you feel safe walking out of your front door then? A society with guns only perpetuates more fear of each other and makes it easier to kill. It will further divide us, separate us, further alienate us, and further drive us to despair and loneliness. Nothing good can come from more guns in more hands.
I often dream about a world without violence. Many tell me that it is impossible to have a world where something like Sandy Hook shootings only happens once in a blue moon or very, very rarely. Why is it impossible? It will take a change of consciousness; it will take a shift in focus, a collective arming of love, a collective new level of acceptance of all human beings without regard to social strata, religion, politics, sexual preference, gender, and color. It will take a mass healing starting from each and every heart and spreading to every system we have in place that is not working or failing. We need to ask, “What’s in it for US?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” It will take responsibility. It will take each person choosing to live at peace at every moment. Not all of us will agree on everything – that is not possible – but I can safely say that every human being longs for safety and freedom, which I believe are our rights. The real fight is the fight for peace, not the fight for more weapons.
What can we do to change the consciousness and spirit of fear in this country and worldwide? It starts with each one of us. It starts with peace and love in your heart; it starts with releasing the fear; it starts with letting go and embracing love and peace in each moment. It starts with treating each other with respect, love, and embracing our differences instead of being threatened by them. We are at a crucial time of change in history because the fear and resulting violence in this world is at an all-time, disturbing high. Let’s switch the pendulum to love. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, who freed an entire nation without ever resorting to violence. It starts with you.
My heart and love go out to each and every person affected by the tragedy that just occurred. I cannot fathom the horror from that day. However, the answer, I believe, is not to arm more people with guns. The answer is not more violence. The answer is less violence; it is a shift in belief and action to one of unity, compassion, acceptance, cooperation, love, and freedom regardless of differing beliefs and lifestyles. It is time to move forward without more violence. It is time to conquer fear with love, not with more guns.