Take Action - writercize #192

This week our nation has succumbed to violence. A mall shooting followed up three days later by a school shooting, at opposite ends of the country, with the same chilling results. Fear of the everyday. Uncertainty over what may be just around the corner. Confusion about what drives individuals to that breaking point. And, perhaps most importantly, the realization that we can not control our environment or understand where danger comes from.

What did I do? Turn off the TV and the radio, for one. I fear one of two things will happen if I watch - I will crumble with sadness and blaze unwanted images into by eternal sub-conscience or I will have to create such a strong, impermeable shell in order not to crumble with sadness that I will lose a bit of my humanity. Neither seems terribly appealing.

What couldn't I do? Ignore it altogether. Turn away from Facebook. There is something slightly, subtly comforting in processing fear and disbelief with others via social media. It is not the same as an intimate conversation with a loved one or small group in person, which I also did, but in many ways it opens up the opportunity to more depth and reflection as people share inner thoughts uninterrupted. I don't believe it is false or unworthy to share such experiences via social media - I believe it has the power to be cathartic, particularly when one has established real connections with Facebook friends.

I read thoughts by others - some simple, some direct, some lengthy. There were those that prayed for families, those who sought understanding, those who wanted to discuss gun control, those who looked for solutions to a seemingly impossible problem, those who wanted their families to know how much they loved them, those who were trying to figure out how to broach the subject with children, those who just wanted to speak up and say,  "hey, I heard too. This means something." And I felt honored to be given access to my friends' minds.

Here is what I posted:

"Violence permeates our society once again. It feels so "normal" by now to be faced with such news, that I am honestly shocked to think that Columbine, the first wild gun rampage I can recall, was *only* 13 years ago. 

As much as I wish all this could be blamed on guns - that answer strikes me as too simple in a complex problem. (And I do believe in stringent gun laws, and I do believe guns serve 
no purpose beyond harnessing the ability to kill, but even with my convictions, I am not ready to blame them for what is happening.) 

I am really at a loss on how we can prevent this, as I don't believe threat of a prison sentence or punishment works either. I even wish I could blame it on the state of the economy and desperation some individuals feel in a hopeless situation, but I don't think that's it either. 

The only thing I can come up with is that the one way to prevent individuals from this insane violence is to somehow ensure every member of our society feels loved, valued and cared for, and that every person feels deeply connected to a (positive) community. I hope against all hope that human love, compassion, a healthy respect for one another, animals and the earth and real, offline face-to-face heart-to-heart connection could be the trigger to stop violence, and that empathy can be learned. 

And, when a person does not have empathy or frightens others with a lack of humanity or dark intent ... or when we see a person under attack or faced with bullying or extreme loss ... or when we see a child chastised and made to be afraid of the world or human connection - we can not turn our backs and try to ignore that situation away. We must be brave and speak up and make others aware of our concerns. We must at once reach out and take precautions to protect one another and our families and friends.

We need to bring back the culture of neighborhood community and caring that would have made this news so utterly shocking a generation or two ago, and we need to look our children and those lost in society in the eye and let them know that someone believes, and insists upon, the concept that they can be a power for good. Somehow."

It felt good to put it out there. 

Then I wanted to do a little something more. So I went to the White House website and began a We The People petition. If you haven't heard of it, it's like a direct link to the White House - provided you can find 25,000 people who agree with your cause within a month - and the first 150 without your petition appearing on the public website. No easy task, my writercizer friends! However, the payoff is great - if a petition receives 25,000 signatures, it will be taken under consideration by the administration and a response will be issued. That is pretty amazing. I welcome you to sign mine if you like - verbiage below - but regardless, I encourage you to look at something in your own community that needs a little exposure, and expose it.  

Here is my link to the We The People petition:

Take action through your words.

writercize: Choose an issue that you want to champion or bring attention to, and write about it. Put it on Facebook, write a blog post, send a letter to the editor, email your friends and family, start your own petition - just get it out into the world.

Please paste a link here, or leave your words as a comment below. I want to know what matters to you. My sample response below is taken directly from the We The People petition linked above. There is an 800 character limit.

writercizer sample response:

We petition the Obama Administration to:

Through schools, community groups and multimedia, educate our community about gun safety and ways to minimize violence and isolation in our society with a nationwide PR campaign.

Roll out a la Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" to drugs, early 90s efforts to teach AIDS prevention, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and recent efforts by cigarette companies to emphasize the danger of smoking.

Educate through direct exposure to victims of violence, particularly gun violence and those with permanent scars, and share the stories of family members who lost loved ones to violence. Use powerful images and stories, and relate a message of community, caring, empathy and civic responsibility as a way to build up resistance to violence. Address dangerous effects of bullying and violent media.