Who Will Hear Our Cries

pexels-photo-170840.jpegAs a mom, a grandmother, a teacher, a human being I grieve over the violence in our world. As a problem solver I wonder what we might do to lessen the number of tragedies that our society must endure. As a realist I understand that most issues are far too complex to be successfully resolved with simple solutions. As someone who prefers getting things done to continually ignoring situations, I am frustrated by the bickering among our lawmakers that seems to perennially end in stalemate. I have grown weary of being able to predict the various responses to the major concerns of our time. I find myself searching in vain for leaders who will set aside their own quests for power to become the heroes that we so desperately need. There are so few profiles in courage in our precarious times. Where is an Abraham Lincoln, a Martine Luther King Jr. or a Gandhi? What will it take for the wars of words to stop and the work to begin?

We find ourselves at a perennial impasse. We struggle to even set governmental budgets that allow us to live within our country’s means. We know that we need answers to questions about immigration, but when good souls attempt to forge compromises, the “all or nothing” crowds shoot down any possibilities of resolution. We bow to the bullying demands of the outliers rather than listening to the reason of the middle ground. We can’t even make a deal to insure that all Americans have access to rudimentary healthcare. Again and again we lower our heads in grief, shame and prayer over mass shootings that surely might be mitigated if only we were willing to set aside all of our prejudices and simply build a plan.

On the very day meant to celebrate love, a deranged shooter entered a high school at the end of an academic day and began randomly shooting. He was indeed a troubled soul whose history had alerted many who knew whom. He had been adopted by a loving family but in spite of their efforts to provide him with the nurturing that he needed, things went awry. His father died when he was still a young child. His mother did her best to raise him alone but struggled with his emotional and behavioral issues. She sought the help of therapists and even contacted the police from time to time hoping to find answers to her concerns about her son. He was different, withdrawn, violent, frightening to many who knew him. Fellow students joked that he had the mind of a mass murderer. His school expelled him. A stranger noted one of his posts on social media and even reported him to the FBI. In November, his mother contracted the flu, then pneumonia and died. He was on his own but found shelter in the home of a friend. There were so many clear indications that he needed heavy duty counseling, maybe even medication but none of it was demanded or even offered. Instead he freely purchased guns even as his online posts became more and more foreboding.

There were so many individual measures that might have been taken with this young man that were not. Whether they would have prevented the massacre that he inflicted on innocent students is debatable, but at the very least there would have been attempts to curtail the ticking of the time bomb that was exploding in his mind.

The mental health system in this country is broken. Getting needed care is costly, time consuming, and ultimately frustrating. The cards are stacked in favor of doing nothing, leaving countless individuals and their families and friends feeling alone and even betrayed. All too often it becomes easier just to give up and let the cards fall where they will. The financial and mental energy needed to ameliorate mental health issues is far more costly than it needs to be. It is difficult to find doctors willing to take  on particular cases. The cost can be prohibitive and even with insurance the coverage is spotty at best. The patients themselves more often than not fight against treatments. They can become violently opposed to any form of needed therapy, resulting in a tendency to ignore the obvious and just look away. Even when a family manages to insist on medical intervention or hospitalization the science of mental health is still almost experimental. It takes time and patience to find the right keys to health. Most mental difficulties are chronic so the difficulties become a lifelong struggle. It can be a lonely and never ending fight for both the person affected and those attempting to help him/her.

We desperately need for both our political and medical community to face the realities of the mental health epidemic that plagues us. it is real, not imagined and it is well past time for our society to embrace a well reasoned plan for insuring that nobody is left to deal with such illnesses alone. it will take money, but that is not the only resource that we need. There must be more doctors, more research, more support systems. better coverage of mental healthcare, more facilities for rehabilitation, more openness in discussing these very real illnesses.

Every school needs additional counselors devoted only to the mental health of the students. In far too many instances those designated as counselors are too busy creating class schedules, coordinating testing, and serving as college admissions advisors than actually working with the mental issues of students in conjunction with their parents and teachers. In so many cases teachers are the first to notice warning signs and these should be taken seriously. The counselors should be ready to investigate and draw up plans for addressing concerns. If a student has a history of behavioral problems the counselors should be involved in all discussions of what to do. No student should just be expelled without being also sent to therapy as an additional requirement. If indications of violence are present this may even necessitate informing law enforcement. Under no circumstances should this process be so hidden from view that the individual has the freedom to purchase guns and ammunition.

We do not allow anyone under the age of twenty one to purchase alcohol and yet we allow teenagers as young as sixteen to buy certain weapons as long as they pass a background check that most likely does not include an accounting of their emotional difficulties at home or school. This needs to be remedied immediately and parents who circumvent this law by encouraging their knowingly disturbed children to have weapons should be held accountable for such egregious transgressions. When a parent is worrying about how a child is acting to the point of calling police or seeking professional care for them, it should be apparent that giving access to guns is the last thing that should happen. Even the most stable of youngsters should be supervised and limited in their contact with weapons.

There are common sense laws that we might pass with regard to types of weapons and ammunition clips that should be allowed as well. Nobody other than law enforcement officers and the military needs an arsenal nor do they require weapons that fire rapidly. Furthermore we need to make it more difficult to purchase weapons without some form of training and a more in depth background check. We require anyone driving an automobile to receive driver’s training and pass a test in order to earn a license. That license has to be renewed periodically as well. Perhaps it is time to initiate such a program for guns. Nobody should be able to legally purchase a gun without qualifying for a license after fulfilling age, training,  mental health and testing requirements. 

I am no fool. I understand that if someone wants to kill others that person will find a way. I also know that there will always be an underground community willing to provide guns and ammunition illegally to those who can’t get what they need within the law. No plan will ever be one hundred percent perfect. Nonetheless such arguments are not reason enough to do nothing at all. We craft many laws to make untenable situations better all of the time, and yet when it comes to issues such as mass shootings we wring our hands as though frozen in fear that anything we choose to do will be so flawed that it is better to do nothing at all.

As I cry for the lost souls and the people who loved them I worry that we will just keep kicking the can down the road and responding to our fears by arming more and more people. I shutter as I listen to the snarky comments being hurled back and forth from the differing points of view that do little to instill calm and reason. I wonder when we will come to our senses all around. Surely we can get past our differences and at least try to make things better. How many more need to die before we act? Who will hear our cries and step up to lead us?


It’s Ten O’Clock


It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” If you grew up or were a parent in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s you heard this question every night before the late newscast came on. It was a public service announcement that made sense then, but may be a bit confusing in today’s world. Back in those decades most children were what we now call “free range kids.” They played outside for hours at a time, often with little or no supervision other than a quick glance outside a window from a parent. They wandered away from home to visit with neighborhood friends, not always bothering to check in with parents before doing so. It wasn’t unusual at all for children to return outdoors after dinner to play in the dark under a street light or on someone’s front porch. It was a time of innocence when parents and kids both rarely worried about being harmed. Everyone knew everyone else and watched over one another. Perhaps the freedom that little ones enjoyed back then was fueled by naivety, but it was highly unusual for someone to be lost or harmed, there was little reason to worry.

The closest thing to a dangerous experience that I recall came when my youngest brother was playing a game of football in his bare feet in an overgrown field of grass. Hidden in the tall weeds was a broken bottle with its ragged edge pointing upward. When he stepped back to catch a pass he placed his unprotected foot on the shard of glass which immediately severed his achilles tendon. He bled profusely, but my mom and I miraculously got him to the doctor’s office in time to get it stitched back in place. I remember my mother instructing me in how to apply pressure to the wound to keep the bleeding to a minimum while she drove the car. I was quite frightened but didn’t let my mom see my fears. Of course at that time none of us were wearing a seatbelt and my mother did not carry health insurance either. The former was not yet invented and the latter was too expensive. The doctor did all of the surgery in his office proclaiming again and again that it was a miracle that my sibling didn’t bleed to death on the way over. I suspect that our final bill was little more than around twenty dollars and that even included pain medication that the doc threw in for good measure.

Needless to say times have changed so very much. Parents who allow their children to roam freely today run the risk of being reported to CPS. Few doctors would meet a patient at the office and take care of such a serious situation, especially if the family was uninsured. The world often feels far more dangerous than it ever did back then. Most of the time there are very few children playing outside for hours, and never all alone. They are busy with more carefully planned activities. Play dates have become the norm rather than random knocks at the door from friends seeking adventure. Children spend hours involved with computer games and surfing online. The real dangers lie in encounters with child predators masquerading in anonymity. Bullying either online or with texts has become epidemic. It’s no longer a matter of wondering where your kids are, but of whom they may be encountering on the worldwide web. The simplicity and innocence that marked my childhood and that of my own children seems to be a relic of the past. Parents have to be more careful than ever, even as they hover nervously.

I’m  not certain when everything began to change. Perhaps my experiences come from living in a city that had fewer than a million people when I was young and then somehow became a behemoth of over four million in a short period of time. Being in a place that large certainly makes a huge difference in how willing parents are to allow their children the freedom to interact without their watchful eyes. The dangers seem to grow exponentially in a major urban area. Still it just seems that over the years we have become more worried as a whole society. Maybe our twenty four hour news cycle has made us more aware of what might happen if we ride a bicycle without a helmet or drink from a water hose. I still wonder nonetheless why we no longer see children roller skating down the sidewalk or climbing the tree in the front yard even when their parents are around to guard them. Where are the street basketball games? When did our kids stop playing hop scotch on the driveway? Are they missing something wonderful, or is their world actually just an improved version of ours?

Children today certainly appear to be happy enough. I’ve always known youngsters to be quite adaptable. They tend to accept whatever reality is theirs. They don’t feel that they are missing something that they have never experienced. The child who lives in a high rise building in New York City learns to play in different ways from a counterpart growing up on a farm in Iowa. Both of them will tend to be perfectly happy as long as they are nurtured and loved. Perhaps the nostalgia that old folks like me have is thought to be quaint or even strange by the children of today. They would think it unwise, perhaps even crazy to ride down a highway in the bed of a pickup truck. They might easily bore of lying on their backs staring up at clouds searching for shapes of animals.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if things are getting better or if we have lost something special that we once had. I suppose that the reality is that we will always move ever forward, and while it may feel pleasant to lose ourselves in memories we are better served by joining in the forward progress. We have surely learned a great deal about how to be healthier and safer than ever before. We understand what smoking will do to our overall health. We realize that wearing seat belts and engineering safer cars has truly saved lives. We have used our common sense and our inventiveness to prevent harm and injuries to our most vulnerable. I suppose that it is a very good thing that we no longer have to ask where are children are when the clock strikes ten. 

Bogey Men Under The Bed


Not long ago I awoke in the morning to find that we had left the garage door open all night long and forgotten to lock the door into the house as well. I flew into a state of panic considering what might have happened to us had we not been very lucky, and I began to think about my experiences as a child. Back then our windows were wide open all summer long, all night long. We didn’t own an air conditioner, so we relied on the breeze from our attic fan to keep us relatively cool. It never occurred to us to be frightened that someone might enter our home quite easily, but it would have required little effort to pop out the screen and climb right inside. In fact, we had done just that a few times when we didn’t want our mom to know that we had been out and about a bit too late. She no doubt wasn’t fooled by our antics, but we thought ourselves quite adventurous. At no time did we imagine that someone with criminal intent might one day use the same route as ours to invade our home. We always felt quite safe whether we should have or not, and nothing ever happened to change our beliefs.

During the day we kept the doors to our home ajar as well. Friends and neighbors came and went with little more than a quick knock and a shouted “hello” to warn us that they were incoming. It was as though we were just one great big happy family in our community with nary a thought of home invasions or such. Perhaps we were naive, or maybe it really was as secure as we assumed.

The funny thing is that my mother was quite relaxed inside our little haven, but she was quite guarded whenever we were traveling through the city, especially at night. She was distrustful of strangers and instructed us over and over again in the necessity of avoiding any kind of contact with people that we did not know. She freaked out royally when I once accepted a ride from a man that I only minimally new. She raised such a ruckus that I found myself almost running if a stranger even looked my way. I suppose that I was more afraid of her anger than I was of someone that I did not know. Luckily it was quite rare for unknown persons to come our way.

I watched our little world change over time. My brothers and I moved away from home and my mom purchased a new house in a different neighborhood where she never felt quite as relaxed as she had in the home where I had grown up. She put chains and extra bolts on the doors and screwed her windows permanently shut. She installed peepholes and kept her blinds and drapes tightly shut. There was little wonder for her caution for not only was she living alone, but  she had also been burglarized multiple times by then. Fortunately the robbers only came when she was not home, but her fears grew nonetheless, as did my own.

I was living in a very nice apartment project where I had many good friends when i learned that one of them had been raped upon returning from the laundry room one day. A man had followed her back into her place and threatened her with a knife. She silently submitted to his demands because she had a sleeping child in another room, and she feared what might happen if the baby awakened. I recall the horror that all of us felt along with the unadulterated fear. My husband often worked an evening shift during that time and I grew more and more uncomfortable living in that place. I was somewhat relieved when we finally moved, but my sense of complacency was forever gone. Never again would I be lax in protecting myself, even when I lived in a neighborhood where I knew everyone and felt quite secure.

As a society we have become very afraid, sadly often with good reason. Virtually everyone that I know has been the victim of some kind of crime, from the somewhat trivial to horrific incidents. One of my husband’s uncles was bound and gagged in his home while thieves ransacked his belongings. But for the grace of God they chose to keep him alive. The worst of the terrifying situations were the murders of two of my former students in unrelated incidents.

Our streets and our homes have seemingly become unsafe, and so we install cameras and alarm systems in addition to heavy metal doors and locks, even when we have few possessions that would be of much worth to home invaders. The idea of sleeping with the windows open is unimaginable.

I sometimes wonder if those who speak of “making America great again” are thinking less about issues of equality and more about a time when crimes against strangers were unusual rather than as frequent as they now appear to be. Given the ages of the supporters of the MAGA idea I suspect that they remember an era when everyone felt incredibly safe without walls or locks or loaded guns. Maybe they actually believe that given the right circumstances we might once again return to less fright filled lifestyles. My guess is that they long for the serenity that once felt so commonplace.

The saying goes that you can’t go home again. I suppose that we are long past the days of openness to the extent that we enjoyed fifty or sixty years ago. We have to adapt to the new ways, but we needn’t become overly afraid either. The fact is that in spite of rising crime rates and the need to exercise caution, we mostly enjoy our lives without incident. The reason that hearing of terrible events is so shocking is because they are still mostly rare. We don’t have to lock ourselves away as long as we have a bit of common sense, which includes checking doors and such before going to sleep. We don’t need to be so lax as to leave ourselves wide open for trouble like my husband and I accidentally did, but we don’t have to be constantly worrying either because given the odds most of us will blessedly never encounter trouble.

I’d truly enjoy having the same peace of mind that I experienced as a child, but in reality it came mostly because I was too innocent to even imagine that I would be touched by violence. Bad people were out there even back in the day, but I paid little attention to them chiefly because my mom sheltered me from such things. We had a neighbor who was murdered by her husband, and my sweet mother explained that the man had just been very sick and we did not need to worry. Our response was to avoid walking near the house where the crime had occurred, but otherwise having little concern that something similar might one day happen to any of us. Our innocence was in actuality not that far off of the mark, and we would be wise to carry on with our lives without overthinking our possibilities of being harmed.

Humans have worried about boogeymen under the bed for centuries. Sometimes they are real, but mostly we are just as safe as we have ever been as long as we take care not to place ourselves in harms way.

I Believe


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.—-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Long ago I was teaching some rather rough and tough characters. Many of my students belonged to gangs and had parents who were in prison. It would be an understatement to say that their lives were difficult. There was one young man who had a checkered history both academically and behaviorally, but for some reason he and I hit it off. I had a sense that there was way more to him than met the eye or was capable of being recorded on paper. Before long the two of us were often conversing and I learned that he was a naturally gifted artist. He often spoke of his dreams for the future and I did everything possible to encourage him. He did well in my mathematics class, but failed so many of his other courses that he had to repeat the entire grade. It seemed a bit unfair that he was not allowed to take the next level of mathematics because he had made a strong “B”  from me and I knew that he understood all of the concepts quite well. The only positive aspect of his retention was that he was placed in my class once again because his reputation as a trouble maker made the other teachers leery of  having to deal with him.

I began the new school year by making him a tutor for the other students, telling them that he was a bright fellow who would be able to help them whenever they became confused. He enjoyed his role and took it very seriously. I decided to do something special for him, and so I purchased a portfolio for his artwork from an art supply store. He had never seen such a thing, and got super excited when I explained that it was designed to store his best pieces safely. Before long he was filling it with impressive works that excited both of us.

One day I learned that one of my female students had been sexually abused by her uncle. He had been living with her family but when her parents learned that he had impregnated her they went to the police. The uncle was furious and sent word that he was going to kill the young lady even if he had to stalk her to get an opportunity to do so. The principal of the school instructed me to be observant and immediately let him know if the uncle showed up at my classroom. Together we agreed on a code word that would alert him when I pushed the panic button. It made me sad and quite nervous because I wanted to be certain that the child would be protected from further harm.

I decided to rearrange the seating in my classroom so that the girl would always be close to me and as far from the doorway as possible. While I was in the process of attempting to design a safe place for her the young man whom I had made my assistant walked in and asked me what I was doing. Of course I was not at liberty to tell him what was happening. I simply mentioned that it was time for a change, and so he began helping me move the furniture and place stickers on the tables to let the students know where I had decided they would be sitting. Somehow he almost seemed to figure out what was really happening because as soon as I placed the label for the young lady he suggested that he should sit at the same table, and he even sat down in one of the chairs as though he was determining whether or not he had a clear line of sight for the door. He pushed the furniture around until it was just right, and then looked knowingly at me as if to reassure me that he was taking responsibility for the girl’s safety.

It would not have been too difficult for this young man to know what was going on even though I had said nothing. He was the leader of a powerful gang in the neighborhood, and very little information got past him. I don’t know how much talking the girl was doing, but her growing belly made it clear that she was pregnant, and the fear in her eyes gave away her state of mind. She literally looked like the very image of a madonna on a Christmas card, so lovely and pure, but she was also anxious and filled with a kind of pain.

Nothing ever happened to the sweet young mother. Her uncle eventually fled to Mexico and never came back, but before the coast was clear my young man watched over her easing all of our fears.

Eventually they both moved on to eighth grade and then high school. I never saw either of them again and hoped with all of my heart that they were happy and doing well, but my good thoughts were not to be. I one day learned that the young man was an inmate at Huntsville prison. He had been found guilty of armed robbery and would be in jail for a very long time. Learning of his fate was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life for I knew all too well that in spite of what he had done and what his future fate would be, he was a truly good person inside. It pained me that he had made choices that so damaged all of the possibilities that most certainly might have been his. My heart hurt for him and for his family. I was angry that he had succumbed to the evil temptations of his lifestyle rather than finding a way out as so many of his friends had managed to do. At the same time I still loved him, and so I still often think of him and wonder how he is doing.

Perhaps if his behavior improved he may have been released from prison by now. I hope that maybe he continued his education and worked toward a positive goal. I know that he has the heart for such things but I worry that he may not have had the will. His story is one of those that haunts me, because it is not all that unusual. There were few who were surprised by his fate. He had not impressed many of my colleagues with his talents and his sweetness, because he had rarely shown them to anyone. He seemed to have become victim to a self fulfilling prophecy rather than realizing how much greatness there was inside his soul.

I’d like to think that maybe he matured and somehow found himself. It comforts me to believe so. Not to believe that he was ever able to rise above his circumstances is too depressing to bear, so I allow myself to have a glimmer of hope whenever I think of him. If my thoughts were somehow able to travel through time and space and reach his mind he would understand that I believe in him and pray that he has been able to believe in himself.

Sound and Fury

texas-church-shooting-victims-comp-18-1530_bf40109d18256874b2e36df40ca16083.nbcnews-fp-1200-800Death is as much a part of the human experience as birth and all of the milestones in between. We never know exactly when our time here on earth will end unless we consciously choose to take our own lives. Even then our bodies may resist the harm that we inflict. We may awake to find that we have been saved. If we or a loved one contract a terminal illness we may begin to prepare for the inevitable fate, but still there is an uncertainty. Miracles do indeed sometimes happen. Thus we all understand that while death will be our ultimate end, it is up to each of us to make the most of the interim that defines our time here on earth.

It is in the goodness of our natures that we find the desire to make the world a better place. Our unselfish tendencies nurture the people that we encounter. It prompts us to put ourselves in harms way to save strangers. It urges us to share our bounty with the less fortunate. It results in democracy, justice and integrity. Each of us possess the traits of angels, but in our humanity there is also a dark side. Just as Cain allowed his jealousies to overcome his better instincts, so too do we find that within our same glorious minds we have thoughts that frighten us. Most of the time we control our baser sides, and so most of us are generally very good. Sadly, now and again we witness evil on a grand scale and it both frightens and befuddles us. We want to control it and drive it away, but we have yet to completely eradicate it. Even in the heavenly realm we are told that Lucifer fell from grace. We wonder how we can ensure a more peaceful world if the humanity of mankind continues again and again to bend in the direction of hate.

We have grown weary of witnessing death that results from the hands of individuals with warped minds. We understand that the enormity of their actions is complex and not easily addressed, but our instincts tell us that surely there must be ways to curb the violence that dominates the headlines all too often. Because of the infinite diversity of our backgrounds and thinking we have a difficult time agreeing on how to proceed in the face of mass murders that make schools, churches and entertainment venues unsafe. We respectfully take off our shoes, walk through x-ray machines, have our purses searched for potentially harmful items, follow speed limits, put our phones away while we are driving, limit our personal freedoms for the safety of the whole. We may find such intrusions to be annoying, but we endure them nonetheless because we believe that they are designed to help the greater good. Even though we also understand that any rules have an element of imperfection, we would rather try to prevent crimes than to ignore them.

There is a great debate over guns in our country that runs through a spectrum from those who would demand that nobody be allowed to own them to those who insist that it is a guaranteed right to possess any number or type of firearms as long as an individual has not been legally deemed unfit to do so. Each time a monster chooses to murder innocents with a gun we are horrified and the old debates ensue, but we are unable to find an answer because we seem to fear that one extreme or another will win the day. We appear to be incapable of engaging in a discussion that will lead to a compromise. We are at a standoff that accomplishes nothing. 

The arguments are all too familiar. We hear that those who kill are anomalies, and even if all of the rest of us were to surrender our guns tomorrow evil would still find a way to perpetrate foul deeds. We hear that people kill, not guns. We are told that in the immediate aftermath of tragedies we should not dishonor the dead with political discussions. We are urged to have more conversations of how to deal with the mental illnesses that so often fuel the rage of killers. It is suggested that we create stricter laws regarding the numbers and kinds of firearms that anyone may possess. We are urged to make the purchase of guns more difficult so that we will have fewer of them in our midst. We are reminded that criminals never follow laws anyway, so why have them. The arguments stretch on and on, and so we cry and mourn for those affected by tragedies, but remain at a stalemate regarding how to prevent them.

We see mass murders happening at an all too frequent rate, and we wring our hands in agony and fear that we may not be as safe as we would like to be. We don’t quite know what to do. We wonder and worry that any effort that we make will be in vain, and yet surely we have enough intellect and courage to devise a plan that will at least quell the violence even if it does not eliminate it entirely. We grow weary of the arguments and unwillingness to tackle an obvious problem. We understand that our leaders adopt points of view that they believe will get them reelected rather than being willing to venture into discussions of a plan aimed at ultimately reducing the probability that innocents going about their daily business will needlessly die.

I have prayed with all of my heart that those in whom we entrust the functioning of our nation will begin to listen to not just those who support them, but also those who disagree. Each of us must have a voice and yet there are all too many occasions in which those in power ignore half of the citizens. It has become the accepted way of doing things and as such little is ever accomplished. At any given moment in political time far too many feel disenfranchised. When they protest they are ridiculed. We are expected to take sides and then remain loyal to a particular set of beliefs no matter how questionable they may become. While engulfed in sound and fury signifying nothing, terror rains down on us, unborn children die, we fight even with those that we love.

I have been filled with great sadness of late. It is not a place where I wish to be. My innate nature is to be happy and optimistic. I believe with all of my heart that people are truly good. I have seen proof of this on a grand scale during the floods that threatened to destroy my city. I have celebrated after our baseball team won the World Series and noted how magnificently we came together without thoughts of our differences. I know that it is very possible to set aside our polarities and work together. The outcomes of our efforts will no doubt be imperfect but my mathematical mind tells me that it is possible to make closer and closer approximations to a perfection that may one day save lives.

Far too many of us are abrogating our rights to having a voice in our government. We shy away from discussions among ourselves. We are too busy to tell our representatives how we feel. We take our freedoms for granted and somehow believe that silence is preferable to making waves. We walk away from those whose opinions are different from ours rather than calmly engaging in discourse. We are afraid of disagreements and close our ears to ideas that conflict with ours. We wait for change rather than attempting to create it. We accuse those who demonstrate their concerns of being unpatriotic rather than pausing to understand what is bothering them. We fall prey to propaganda and soundbites rather than becoming truly informed. We all feel that something is very wrong but we fear what may occur if we pay attention for too long. Deep in our hearts we abhor what is happening but we are not willing to endure the process of setting things aright again.

I recently had a discussion with someone who had become disenchanted with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas because of his defiant speech at the Republican National Convention. Ironically I had always disliked the senator until the moment when he chose to stand up for his own beliefs. I still disagree with most of his ideas, but I thought it rather remarkable that he was willing to do the unthinkable by urging  members of his party to vote their consciences rather than blindly following the crowd. I was quite sad when he eventually fell in line for fear of alienating his party and losing his position. I would have preferred that he remain steadfast in feeling that we must stop the rock solid allegiances to people and philosophies even when we realize that they are hurting our country.

I cannot be certain that there is one action that will help to curb the gun violence that so plagues us. We need to address not just the ownership of guns but other issues as well. We continue to be confounded by the prevalence of mental illness. We must discuss the abuse of young children and the violence to which they are often exposed which leads them to become troubled adults. We should be willing to consider many different points of view and then craft a plan that at least attempts to consider changes in the ways that we presently do things. Some argue that we must have restrictions on who is able to migrate to our country in the interest of national safety, but those same people do not believe that we should also place restrictions on gun sales and ownership. There is a bit of disconnect in such logic that we must study. Perhaps there is a middle ground for both issues if only we have the willingness to begin a process of national healing. I’m not sure what it will take to convince us of the need to try, but I believe that it is what we must do.