The poet said "April is the cruelest month," but I think this year it may well be May that was cruel. We lived through yet another school related shooting, with lives shattered by random violence, and I found my heart heavy as I listened to the news reports of death and devastation. The impassioned cry of "Not One More" from grieving father, Richard Martinez, broke my heart as I know it did yours. It would be easy to just give up -- to give in to the desolation that comes from having hopes that we will now recognize that we must do something to stop the violence that seems all around us, dashed again. It would be easy to say, "it's never going to change and there's nothing I can do." But we mustn't give up hope. Nor can we substitute hope or sadness for action. Both hope and sadness are real and important, but they don't take the place of action.
I don't know what that action may be for you -- only you can decide that. For me, it includes showing up in support of new laws and new programs both relating to gun violence and to mental health issues. Because I see that these two elements of our society are intricately woven together in the tragedies that have plagued us for years now. We must have some level of gun control -- for me that has always been obvious. But gun control alone isn't going to work. We also need better programs that support persons who are struggling with mental illness, better programs for families and schools, and organizations who can work on behalf of those who are mentally ill.
And because I believe that both those areas will need governmental action [they are the only ones who can pass gun control laws, after all and the amount of funding necessary to impact mental health problems is too big to expect to come from anywhere else], I am also going to pay attention to who I vote for. I've already contacted my law makers to raise the question of what they are willing to do to heed Richard Martinez' cry.
More than anything else that might be able to impact the larger problem, I see a need for good education about mental illness, programs that are available, and ways we can support those around us who are struggling with mental health. And let's not forget education about the needs of those who work to support family, friends, and neighbors who are dealing with loved ones who are mentally ill. If you agree with me, let's see what we can do to make certain there are educational programs about mental illness in all the organizations we belong to -- starting right here at UUCA!
I know there are many more people who are horrified and saddened by the violence than there are people who want to commit violence. All we need to do is stand up and be counted, then take action!
In the meantime, may you