Let’s Get Beyond Asking “When Will the Insanity End”?
Responding to the Boulder Shooting
On Monday our organization’s hometown became our country’s latest target of a mass shooting. Our state of Colorado has suffered the repeated trauma of mass shootings from Columbine to the Aurora Theatre to Monday’s Boulder shooting at our neighborhood grocery store.
It’s common after these mass shootings to ask “When will this insanity end?”
Let’s stop asking that question. Let’s also stop asking, “Wasn’t Las Vegas enough?” “Wasn’t Sandy Hook enough?” Because we should never ask that when one is too many. Instead let’s ask a question that moves us all towards action after the Boulder shooting. “How can dignity inspire us to do small yet powerful acts that make my community safer?”
We start small…
How can I recognize the dignity of my neighbors?
What can I do to recognize dignity in myself?
Am I creating the necessary time and space to process and recover from emotional fatigue? These conversations take time and energy.
How do I support local mental health initiatives?
How can I advocate for background checks and bans on assault rifles?
How do I hold our elected officials responsible to make these reasonable changes in the law that the majority of the American public supports? This continuing violence is a collective violation of our dignity. By refusing to act on gun reform, our elected officials send the message that our humanity is not a priority.
We stop focusing on the individual reason why this particular shooter acted out.
We acknowledge the obvious patterns; that 96% of shooters are men and the majority of these perpetrators are white. To be clear, we don’t assume all men are capable of this kind of violence. But if we refuse to address this commonality, we miss an important data point that helps us proactively support people before they choose violence.
In moments like these, it’s also tempting to reach out to people who are somehow touched by the tragedy; whether because they are close geographically or share the victims’ race or ethnicity like the recent Atlanta shooting. But often we struggle with the right words.
We received a heartfelt message from a friend that graciously strikes the right tone that we wanted to share.
I just want to let you know that I’m thinking about you and to express that this horrible event has reminded me that we’re connected and I feel the need to share that with you as well. So do take care. You have my condolences and sympathy during this time. And unfortunately, that’s about all I have to offer. So sorry for you, your friends and neighbors and the whole Boulder community.
Boulder is our home. Some of us couldn’t leave our office on Monday until the “shelter in place” mandate lifted. We are safe from this shooting but we are hurting. We aren’t alone. We join many communities who have experienced this tragedy and, unfortunately, many more will join us unless we decide that we will unite in demanding our collective dignity. We know we can do it. Remember, we don’t need the grand gestures. The smallest acts will shift our world.
If you need emergency assistance, please contact Colorado Crisis Services: 1-844-493-8255, or Text “TALK” to 38255.
This originally appeared in our newsletter Communiquette.