Problems have a Purpose

Problems have a Purpose: That’s my premise. They point to what’s not working or where we can go next in our evolution. Our country has a problem. (okay, maybe several) The one we see so starkly at the moment is these senseless acts of violence. But that problem can point us to what’s not working. As I read people’s reactions I hear four places we need to place our loving attention and action:

  1. Gun control – I’m not saying we need to ban all guns from the public. Not at all, but there’s a need to moderate who can own what.
  2. Mental health – we need to find a better way to help those with mental and emotional disorders before they go over the edge.
  3. Media – it’s time for our media to become more responsible in how and what they cover. Stop going for the ratings and start reporting a better balance of what’s working as well as what’s not.
  4. Parenting – How can we collectively do a better job raising our children, including those ‘quiet ones’ that seem so often to be ignored until it’s too late.

We don’t need all the answers immediately but it’s time to start asking the right questions so this problem can fulfill it’s purpose – some solid solutions.

Gun Control: The youth who shot and killed twenty children and six adults in Sandy Hook obtained his weapons from his home where he lived with his mother.  Now, I ask you, why do we think a single mother needs to own an assault weapon to defend herself. (As it turns out, she was killed by one of the guns she owned to protect her.)

Perhaps a couple things to consider would be the re-instate the Brady Bill (Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act) and to restrict assault rifles and automatic or semi-automatic weapons to the military and our police forces. I offer these ideas to encourage more conversations about this as part of the solution.

NOTE: You can contact the White House online here or call 2020456-111 and let them know that it’s time to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines now.

Mental health: Few people would disagree that a significant part of this problem is how we’ve been dealing with or not dealing with those with mental illness. I think this essay, I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother, points out many of the challenges we face better than anything I can write.

NOTE:  Liza M. Shaw, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mother of 2 from Hickory, NC has started an online petition. Signing it takes less than a minute and is a positive and purposeful action you can do to help turn this problem around. Go here now to sign it and then share it with others.

Media: For far too long the media has had a preoccupation with bad news for the simple reason that bad and dramatic news stories gain the top ratings, so here is where, we the public, need to share in the responsibility. If we don’t watch the shows that harp on bad news, but actively boycott them as well as writing in to let them know why we’re turning off such shows, maybe we can begin to get a more balanced diet that covers what’s not working along with what is working about our world. My nomination for a news show to begin to emulate is CBS Sunday Morning. I estimate that of the ninety minutes of each week’s show, a good sixty or more minutes are devoted to news that inspires as well as informs.  It’s a start.

Parenting: It’s time that we take the concept of our children being raised by a village to the next level. Whether someone has a child, children or are without them, we all are impacted by the generations that are coming up behind us.  Being a parent of a child, I know it can be one of the most challenging and satisfying jobs in life, and boy there are so many ways to mess it up.  Some of them, many of them, can be avoided if we take on a more active role.  It’s a fallacy to think being a parent is just about offering ‘quality time.’ Our children need both quality and quantity time. The world in which they’ve been born is simply too complex and is changing too fast for them to go it alone.  We can all help to reduce such tragedies as occurred in Sandy Hook.

For me, I think one of the most important things we can do to help our children is to help instill in them a sense of purpose and to help them follow what they are passionate about in their life. It’s not the whole answer, but it’s a good place to start. It’s also one of the reasons I’m devoting a good amount of my time and energy to completing Life On Purpose for Teens & Young Adults in 2013.

A Few Last Words

These come from Carolyn McCarthy, a suburban New Yorker whose husband was killed and her son wounded in a random shooting on the Long Island Railroad in December 1993. Not long afterward, she ran for Congress, and won. Go here to read her commentary that appeared on CBS Sunday Morning as I was writing this blog post.

But You Get the Next Words

I’ve written this point in the hope that it will stimulate a bit more thought, discussion and action, or as our President said, “It’s time to take meaningful action.”  What do you see our some of the possibilities for reducing or even eliminating such senseless acts of violence both on a national level and right there in your own community.  I’d really like to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.