Violence is an underlying issue in our country. But just as much as guns are a problem, there is an attitude that exists prior to the action. Violence starts as a thought and then is accompanied by emotion. It shows up beyond gun violence.
We speak violence by the way we talk to others. We see violence in the shows we watch that dehumanize and devalue others.
We feel violence because many of us have experienced it at the hands of those we loved, and/or thought would protect us. Violence has become a part of our existence.
Whether it is reality television shows filled with verbal abuse, belittling, and fighting or video games that desensitize the value of life with non-stop killings and blood throughout their entirety—we have a constant diet of doom, gloom, and death.
There is such hatred and disrespect that is condoned on Twitter and other forms of social media. Instead of addressing the root causes and the real issues that plague us as a society, we find time to blame others and seek fault instead of looking in the mirror to determine our role in this culture and how we will seek to create change around us.
It becomes too easy to become a keyboard activist typing words of condemnation and pointing fingers at others instead of searching within and partnering with others to create strategies that can make a positive impact.
Yes, our politicians should be held accountable, but it begins with our involvement in our communities, in our schools and with our children instead of allowing everything else to raise them.
Yes, there must be additional regulation on guns in our country. But isn’t it time we begin to ask ourselves why in the last two shootings (occurring in Buffalo and Uvalde), both were committed by young men who were 18 years of age?
The overwhelming majority of mass shootings have been by males. Are we asking ourselves why and what can be done?
The roots of hatred and jealousy began in the first earthly family’s genealogy. The first recorded murder in the Bible involved Abel and Cain, sons of Adam and Eve. Abel kept the animals and Cain was responsible for farming the land.
Abel brought his best offering and was rewarded by God for doing so. Instead of trying to do something different and following God’s expectations, Cain’s anger was misplaced and directed at this brother. God said to Cain: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 9. Cain refused to take responsibility for his actions, blamed his brother, and allowed his emotions to overwhelm him.
He decided to take his brother’s life. He is an example of what happens when our emotions go unchecked. Our emotions become a breeding ground for jealousy, hatred, envy, lies, murder, and other ills that can ruin relationships, homes, and our society.
Our view of others as ‘less than,’ while others should be entitled to more is an issue. We are all created in God’s image. It’s an issue of how we see others, but it’s also an issue of how we see ourselves.
It’s problematic that these young terrorists felt so low about themselves and their lives that they were willing to take the lives of others.
These issues didn’t start the day of the mass shootings. Something started years ago that wasn’t checked, that wasn’t dealt with. It festered until it became out of control.
There’s a lot that must be done. It’s not a ‘one and done’ solution. But until we are willing to unwrap the many layers of this situation, we are only putting a band-aid on a rapidly growing cancer.
Prayer is important. Gun reform is important. Teaching respect is important. Voting for those who are not easily compromised but are willing to do what’s right for all is important.
Addressing racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism is important. Mental health accessibility is important. Protection from violence is important. But know that blame alone will not solve it.
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the president of Soulstice Consultancy, LLC. To learn more about her, visit <drfroswabooker.com>.)