Something bad happens and the cry goes out to “do something” to prevent bad things from happening again.
Here’s something we can do (and it doesn’t involve guns).
We don’t hear of mass deaths of children in school fires these days: fire drills have long since been commonplace, led by trained school staff, not to mention sprinkler systems and smoke alarms and strategically placed fire extinguishers that can nip a blaze in the bud while firefighters are en route. In the past, if someone “dropped dead,” people would cry and wring their hands and wail, “When will the ambulance get here?” Today, almost every responsible adult knows CPR; most schools have easily-operated Automatic Electronic Defibrillators readily accessible; and a heart attack victim’s chance of surviving until the paramedics arrive to take over is now far greater.
Seat belts. It seems so common-place now to get into the car and buckle up, right? It’s just what you do, feels foreign and naked to not do it. It’s just what you do, right? Well, it wasn’t that way until recently. Mandatory seat-belt laws only started in the US in the mid-1980’s, which isn’t too long ago. But we cannot deny these safety tools save lives. But the mantra of “buckle-up” and reams of data show that seat belt use saves lives.
So consider these three cases, because they all have something in common: inevitable, inescapable. Fires happen. Heart attacks happen. Car accidents happen. We can’t use laws to eliminate them. We can’t pray them away. We can’t ban matches or cholesterol or physics and expect the problems to disappear. But what we HAVE done with these things is accept they can happen, they do happen, they will happen. So what we’ve done is prepare ourselves to handle their eventuality.
We must take this same acceptance of reality with active shooter or mass murder situations.
Yeah I know… that feels horrible and ugly to accept and some will refuse to accept it, as if accepting equates to condoning (it doesn’t). Life and the world can be ugly, folks, and denying the ugly doesn’t make it not so — it only puts you in a state of denial.
For a moment, consider that in the past 30 years, we really haven’t had any change in the rates of mass shootings. If anything has changed, it’s news coverage and instant media. In Mas’ above article, he mentions a school massacre from almost 250 years ago. Consider archeological evidence of Neanderthal violence over 36,000 years ago. Folks, violence is around, always has been, always will be… and yes, it always will be because violence is actually necessary for society to work (for laws to exist, to be able to be enforced; the proxy nature of police… the people you grant and delegate the authority to do violence on your behalf). You may not want to like violence, but that doesn’t make violence not exist, nor does it mean you won’t become victim to it.
So once we can accept violence happens, the next step we can take is how to survive it.
Here are two articles with some excellent advice.
The first is from Greg Ellifritz, “A Parent’s Guide to School Shootings“. Greg speaks from experience and deep study on the topic, and provides excellent and tangible advice for parents, school administrators, and students on how to be more aware, take better pro-active and better re-active steps in the context of school shootings (or any sort of mass murder event). But ultimately, his suggestions are only useful if people enact his suggestions. It requires parents to be engaged and yes, hard on the school administration. They must ask the tough questions, press for answers, press for action. Teachers — the people on the front line — must press up the chain of school administration to empower the teachers and other staff immediately within the school with the resources and support necessary. Parents and even other students can also take their own action to prepare themselves with plans (know escape routes, come up with your own plans to escape, to stay alive). So… you want something to do? Here’s something you can do, and it will affect change now. Read Greg’s article and put his suggestions into action.
The second is from Marc MacYoung, “What Do I Do When Someone IS Shooting at Me?” Marc’s article starts out with a brief discussion on psychology, which is critical for understanding violence and those partaking in it. Yes, if someone is attacking you, you are partaking in the violence and your brain will revert to monkey mode or lizard mode — it’s important to understand these things so you can better control your reactions. Marc then goes into things you can do, by assessing the situation you find yourself in. He also touches on some important matters like, what to do if you actually get shot. While Marc’s suggestions are more personal in nature (i.e. directly related to what YOU can do), consider that after reading his article you’ll have more knowledge about the matter. If you ever find yourself caught in such a situation, instead of freezing and trying to figure out what to do as precious seconds flitter away, now you can know what to do. It’s like CPR: we hope to never have to use the knowledge, but it’s sure handy to have when we find ourselves needing it. So this is something you can do, right now.
If nothing else, watch this 6 minute video called “Run, Hide, Fight”
If you don’t remember anything else, remember those 3 words. Teach your children those 3 words. Sure, a 5-year-old may not be able to fight, but they certainly can understand how to run and hide, and you can even distill Greg and Marc’s more specific takes on “run” and “hide” into a manner that a 5-year-old can understand. Again, we believe that 5-year-olds can learn how to escape in case of fire — the sort of teaching and learning involved here is no different.
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.
Yes, we should work to address larger problems. Yes, we should work to address the deeper issues involved. Those things will take time to sort out and enact. Meantime, the world spins on, and violence can still happen. We want to bring change to the world, but getting others to change is difficult. Changing ourselves should be easy. And changing ourselves is really the first step towards enacting greater change throughout the world. Start with yourself. Start by educating yourself about these situations and how you can stay alive. Educate your children. Pass this on to others. This is “something” we can do now.