4 Things You Can Do About Senseless Massacres

candle light vigil
candle light vigil

Every day, a host of issues, big and small, command my attention and yours. Right now we have a monstrous shock to this rhythm. We have a problem that is simply unacceptable, demanding our attention ahead of anything else.

I can't stop thinking about the violent attack in Orlando, and maybe you can't either. I can only continue to absorb the heartbreaking impacts, and to re-encounter the wounded heroes of past attacks, like the Sandy Hook mom who posted a letter, "I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that our tragedy here in Sandy Hook wasn't enough to save your loved ones."

As this most recent "impulse massacre" incident sinks in, we need to not just think about it; we need to do something about it.

Overwhelmed? Where to begin? I have a few ideas.

  1. If you're a boss, you can let your employees and customers know how you feel, not only about the shooting but also about the principles that hold value for you now. Work hard on good things, be respectful, be kind. Say thank you more often, and mean it. Here's an example, from my friend Jon Foley's letter to his staff at the California Academy of Sciences. Jon begins, "Dear Academy Family, I wish I had the right words--words that would somehow reassure and comfort all of us during this terrible time, when nothing seems to make sense. But I don't. No one does. Instead, I would simply encourage us all to try a little bit harder, be a little bit kinder, and honor those we lost by creating a better world, starting today. Ultimately, we all have to make a choice with our lives, and it's a simple one: we can be inspired to do something and work for a better world, or we can be trapped by despair and accept the world we have."

  • If you're a parent, you can limit your children's exposure to gun glamorization. You can explain that there's something broken in our system, and you can ensure them that you're interested in using your influence--a petition, vote, or a contribution--to help stop gun violence. Jimmy Fallon asks, What do I tell my children? Jimmy, with your vast audience to influence, you can tell your children that you are on it.
  • If you're a communicator, then communicate. Use your talents to get to the heart of this situation. Inspire the rest of us, as Anderson Cooper does here, and as Charles Blow does here, as Jeffrey Toobin does here, as Hillary Clinton (never mind if you plan to vote for her) does with her statement that people on no-fly lists and/or suspects on terrorist watch lists shouldn't be allowed "to just go and buy a gun."
  • If you're a teacher, you can pause for a moment of respectful silence at the beginning of your next class, as yogini Chanel Luck did in her class on Monday, in Boston: "I walked in teach my 6pm class, having been in a daze since Sunday morning. How can I offer hope to my students when I too, am scared and speechless? What will I say? How will I teach? I take a few deep breaths ... hoping that I can source my teaching from something greater than me. I begin by asking everyone to share their name and any sentiment on how they are feeling. Most of us are tired, broken, drained, scattered. One student said, 'I feel like a sack of rocks that just got dropped,' yes, yes.. I understand. I suddenly realize, yes, we have a collective field here...."
  • You get it: Think about this, for sure. Cry, brood, absorb. But then, when you have your thoughts together, do something. Don't keep your feelings to yourself. Try harder, be kinder, make the world a better place. Lead, and love--wherever you are. Start now.

    For me, the mess begins with the stupefyingly easy access to killer weapons by people who are well-known to be out-of-control angry, abusive, in need of counseling, and/or even suspected of terrorist leanings. And not just any old weapon, but a 7-pound rifle that fires 24 shots in 9 seconds. So let's start with that.

    Who would object to such a sensible step? I guess plenty of people, especially those who have a pecuniary interest in the AR-15. It's a big country. But I suspect there's an overwhelming majority of us, shooting enthusiasts included, who are now saying enough is enough, and will start doing something about it.

    Photo from the Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images and Huffington Post