On Monday, our nation will celebrate Memorial Day, a national holiday designed to remember those lost in war or in the line of duty. Over time, the holiday remembrance has expanded to those in our lives who have died, and many families visit cemeteries and grave sites to pay homage to those they’ve lost. As we approach this holiday, and I reflect on the fallen and lost, I feel compelled to write about the nineteen 9-year-old 4th graders and two of their teachers who were lost this past week in an Uvalde, TX elementary school massacre, the 27th school shooting in our country this year. The families of these innocent victims will mourn their loss for the first time on this somber weekend, and every Memorial Day that follows.
I am heartbroken by this tragedy. I am also incredibly angry. And, as much as I’ve prayed this week about it, I can’t shake the disappointment I feel in myself, my community, my state, and my country that we are standing by and allowing these violent acts to happen in our midst.
What I’m wondering is, when did we become a nation that sends “thoughts and prayers” while adopting a national strategy of APATHY and INACTION to address our problems?
I am a leadership coach. I would never prescribe denial, rationalization, or hopelessness as acceptable mindsets to solve the challenges we face in our lives or businesses. So, why are they acceptable stances for us as citizens when it comes to approaching national issues like gun violence, racism, suicide, drug addiction, mental illness, or climate change?
Is it because we don’t want to be “political,” to take positions that could make us less likeable or alienate clients, friends, or family members? We’re so polar in our opinions that we’re frozen into inaction, and our nation’s problems are compounding.
My oldest daughter, a teacher, asked me this week, “Why do we say we’re the greatest nation in the world when we allow things like this to happen in our schools?” I didn’t have an answer. Our nation is wonderful, in so many ways, but it is slowly crumbling under the weight of our unsolved social issues, our growing disunity, and our collective cowardice to step forward and take the stand needed to drive change.
I have been quiet on too many issues for far too long myself, not wanting to upset my team, clients, family, or friends by saying the wrong thing. Silence is only allowing these issues to persist.
This Memorial Day, I am grateful for the freedom of expression because of the sacrifices of our service men and women, our first responders, healthcare workers and teachers, to name a few. I am profoundly grateful for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for me. I am also taking a stand that the violence happening in schools STOPS. There are a number of ways to get at this problem including:
- Mental health and background checks for all gun buyers
- Hold periods for all gun buyers
- Requiring a permit for concealed carry
- Passing laws to penalize adults who leave guns unlocked or accessible to others in their home
- Eliminating the sale of assault rifles to all but military and police – this won’t take the millions already sold off the street, but will stop new sales
- Heavily restricting the sale of high magazine ammunition such that those who own assault rifles but aren’t military or police run out of ammo or pay underground economy pricing for it going forward
- Spending federal money to put camera systems, all-door lock systems, staffing main entrances, providing safety and emergency response training to all school staff and local first responders, and requiring documented emergency response plans to make all U.S. schools safer
- Spending federal money to place a police officer or School Resource Officer (SRO) at every school if we can’t get any gun reform passed, and maybe the NRA would help fund this?
I am not an expert on gun policy, and I am not anti-gun. But I AM a very concerned citizen that wants all U.S. lawmakers held accountable if they don’t gather together immediately and make some change – TRY SOMETHING – TRY ANYTHING to stop the murder of innocents in our schools.
I believe we can do better. I encourage you to join me in the conversation and in daily outreach to your U.S. Senators and Representatives demanding they make change. And please join me in prayer for those lost to school violence this Memorial Day.