By now, you are aware of what happened in Connecticut on Friday. My clients & friends in CT all have children (many in elementary school) just minutes from this town … they’re all OK thankfully, but this could have been any one of us. My heart is still heavy; there will be 26 funerals this week before Christmas. This is just so sad and so close to home. This event should make every parent everywhere come together and address the real issues at hand. We really need to come together. Instead, some took advantage of the moment to spew their political or religious ideology. Distracting the conversation, clouding the truth. Similar to health & weight loss, everyone is now an expert on topics they know little about. The media had its standard speculation-fest and vampire-like sensationalism. CNN immediately blamed the wrong person. KMART exploited the moment to promote products. The NRA was silent, then took down its Facebook & Twitter page. A heated ‘gun rights’ debate ignited and will now be at the forefront of our collective discussion for awhile. This is a good thing, because it needs to happen. Is it too early to talk about gun laws or is it already too late?
1) Mental Health
Often overlooked, yet integral to human health & wellbeing, it is something only a few of us discuss in nutrition/fitness. Yes, we need to talk about gun laws, but people need to mourn first, and we really need to talk about mental health and community.
It is normal to grieve and mourn. And when the parents are ready to speak, we must listen carefully. Don’t jump the gun sharing opinions and politicizing tragedies.
Don’t speculate until we have answers, but the shooter so far has been described by friends/relatives as a loner, a social outcast. He may have been autistic and brilliant, but remote. Like physical health, there are several elements to the causes & consequences of an incident like this, so: don’t jump the gun and get all heated up until you’ve done more research and more information becomes available.
The salient points are many; don’t blame one thing (like guns, meds, media or god). Think holistically and focus on practical solutions.
Mental illness is stigmatized in this culture; many are afraid to talk about it and people don’t get the help they need, especially children. It’s common knowledge that our healthcare system is broken, but few people know anything about mental health. While people waste precious hours of their lives watching TV, they could be reading, learning, sharing and uplifting. This world – every nation, religion, and culture – can benefit from more compassion, empathy and education on mental health. And it starts with each one of us.
Solutions are not out of reach. Read a book, raise your voice, listen carefully, practice and encourage compassion. Pay attention.
Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
2) Gun Laws
Instead of jumping on the ‘ban all guns’ vs. ‘need more guns’ argument which are both faulty assumption. We need a mature discussion based on FACTS. I’ve had weapons my whole life, I was on the rifle team in military school, I played with Chinese stars, Samurai swords & nun chucks since I was 8 years old. I grew up with handguns and shotguns (in Florida in the 80’s, btw). At 16 I renounced violence and embraced vegetarianism for it’s principle of non-violence. I’ve been through several natural disasters and near death experiences. I’m not against responsible gun ownership. But most of the rhetoric about gun control is coming from a oversimplified, paranoid perspective and based in fear.
The shooter had hundreds of rounds of ammo, high-powered clips and the assault weapons that were obtained legally. Keep in mind gay marriage and marijuana is still illegal in most states. Our priorities as a society – and the whole world recognizes this – are totally screwed up. Our culture is broken. But nobody needs an arsenal of assault weapons for ’self-defense’.
Bushmaster .223 assault rifle,
Sig Sauer 9mm,
.45-caliber Henry repeating rifle,
.22-caliber Marlin rifle
Collecting assault weapons because you fear the end of the world (Doomsday Preppers) is not a hobby, it is a thought disorder.
The USA has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. is home to anywhere between 35 and 50 percent of all civilian-owned guns on earth.
When rational people demand BETTER gun laws/restrictions, WE ARE NOT TRYING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY. We are addressing one important factor in this issue. It is easier to get guns than it is to get a driver’s license in some states.
Better regulations can include child-proof safety lock, loading indicator, background/criminal record check, advance registration/waiting period, Social Security Number, competency test, vision test, limits on purchases, mandatory education & safety training, for example. This is common sense.
When it comes to gun violence, rather than resorting to emotion, fears or speculation, we can look at the science, which gives us better, more rational answers.
In the US, stricter gun laws = less gun violence, get the facts: smartgunlaws.org
Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
‘In general, guns don’t induce people to commit crimes. “What guns do is make crimes lethal’ http://harvardmagazine.com/2004/09/death-by-the-barrel.html
‘Conclusions. Although our study cannot determine causation, we found that in areas where household firearm ownership rates were higher, a disproportionately large number of people died from homicide.’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/
‘15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States. America is an unusually violent country. But we’re not as violent as we used to be…’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/
Americans constitute one of the most heavily armed societies in the developed world, with 40% of households containing guns. U.S. homicide rates are two to ten times higher than in other developed countries. http://www.smallarmssurvey.org
– Where there are more guns there is more homicide
– Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.
– Across states, more guns = more homicide
This is a call to action so we can get a grip on this problem. It starts with us practicing more compassion, not getting irrational with wanna-be-Rambo or apocalyptic fantasies..
Here is one way you can help:
3) God & Religion
This is the best article I’ve found thus far, written by clergy: Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT To Say And Five Things To Say In A Trauma Involving Children
The religious fanatics took to the airwaves & interwebz to push their ideas ‘if prayer wasn’t taken out of schools, this wouldn’t have happened.’ The human waste project known as the Westboro Baptist Church started tweeting and plans to picket. The mother may have been involved in an extremists survivalist group.
To my religious readers, I care less about what you believe and more about your extremist brethren with big mouths. I implore you, hold your brethren accountable.
It will probably never end, but WE CAN REDUCE HARM IN THIS WORLD when you care and make an effort.
What can WE do?
- STAND UP for what’s right. STOP playing small and LET THE WORLD HEAR YOUR VOICE.
- STOP people (make them accountable) when they are being insensitive assholes.
- LOVE more than you think you can.
- TEACH your children to not laugh at the suffering of others and turn the garbage TV off.
- TEACH your children to not bully and don’t tolerate bullying in their community.
- STOP tolerating ignorance & bigotry in your community.
- INSPIRE & EMPOWER those around you, especially children, let them know they are LOVED and ALLOW them freedom to express their own unique awesomeness.
- At your holiday parties, have fun responsibly AND discuss solutions for human health & wellbeing. All of you already have a positive influence on others in your community.
- Do not support mainstream media that sensationalizes death/destruction and fuels fear.
- Every child should learn jiu jitsu. Self-defense and (self-control) is NOT violence. Extremism leads to violence.
- Leanr the facts and get political active on these issues, take a stand. It works.
Human health & wellbeing extends far beyond food & fitness. There are more important issues that we need to discuss. Stigmatizing mental illness, a lack of concern for others wellbeing and fear of speaking out are all too common. This is a call to action to be bold, practice compassion, cooperation & express the morality which resides in your heart.
In times like these, it helps to reflect with gratitude for our loved ones & community. It helps to mourn, and then take action. My deepest condolence goes out to these families in Sandy Hook and all families of innocent victims everywhere.
As far as your diet or health go, don’t freak out or panic over the holidays. Check out secrets of centenarians, to help balance your perspective.
If you want to be inspired, please take 5 minutes to watch this: It’s Always Now
Parnets and fitness/healthcare professionals, please read this: http://www.drkwamebrown.com/sandy-hook-shooting/
Replying to my pro-gun friends – http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/progun_friends