Here’s “something” we all can do (even if you hate guns)

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).

Massad Ayoob made a very good point:

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.

– Gandhi

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.

5 thoughts on “Here’s “something” we all can do (even if you hate guns)

  1. So it’s a given that violence will happen, yes. But why are the rates so much higher in the U.S. than in other OECD countries?

    • That I don’t know, and I don’t think the answer is a simple one. I don’t think we can blame guns, or taking God out of schools, or poor mental health care, or heavy metal music, or whatever “demon du jour” we want to dream up.

      The best I can think is one of cultural difference and societal structure. I mean, when we start comparing violence rates on a country by country basis, we have to consider that each of these countries are different. They have their own culture, their own norms, their own religions, their own history, their own class system, structures, whatever you want to say. I think that plays a role in it. For example, given my Asian heritage, I have often heard many old Asians lament how Asian culture is suffering because of Western influence. I can see why they say that. For example, Asian culture puts the grandparents at the top of the seniority scale, but here in the US, we cast our elderly aside, putting them in homes, and ignoring them (to paint with a broad brush).

      I think there’s a growing lack of deceny and respect for others. It used to be we could disagree with each other and it was respectful and cool. But now, if you disagree with me you’re a scummy motherfucker and I will unfriend you on Facebook and you can fuck off and die (not directed at you, that’s just the tone of the attitude). Everyone is self-centered, selfish, too caught up in their own world. Neighbors go years living next to each other, never speaking a word, not knowing each other. People don’t look at each other any more… eyes averted, head down… no more friendly smiles, no waves, no friendly “hello” as we just pass each other. We’ve gotten mean, nasty, and ugly to each other. We’re angry. We’re unhappy. We have everything in the world… we’ve got iPhones that let us do so much, that do things even the Jestons never dreamed of, we have more money, more food, more clothing, more everything… but yet, we’re unhappy… maybe because we spend all our time chasing those things, and not enough time just being with people and enjoying the heaven lying at our feet (“Learn to Be Still”, great song by the Eagles).

      And I think it just bubbles and boils over….

      But I really don’t know.

      But I’d like to think and like to hope that if we slowed down, felt a little more love, shared a little more love, gave a little more love… spent time listening with the intent to understand and not the intent to reply (and jam “my way” down your throat)… spent time trying to understand the world and accept some realities about it, which doesn’t mean we can’t strive for some ideal but we must accept the reality of the world in the meantime instead of living in denial.. well, maybe that might help a little bit. Especially the love part.

  2. You make these too statements, seemingly unaware of the implications:

    “I don’t think we can blame guns, or taking God out of schools, or poor mental health care” … “The best I can think is one of cultural difference and societal structure”.

    You’ve highlighted the glaring societal differences between the United States and other western democracies that are high consumers of US media and culture, yet don’t suffer from the rate of gun crime: gun control, secular states, universal health care. And in the same breath you dismiss them?

    It’s no wonder that many US citizens take the same view as yourself that: “We must take this same acceptance of reality with active shooter or mass murder situations”. Unable to challenge the underlying assumptions that guns, god and the private sector are what’s best, you’re left to defend the status quo as an inevitability.

    Respectfully, I think that more can be done, than to ask kids to fend for themselves.

  3. You make these too statements [in comments], seemingly unaware of the implications:

    “I don’t think we can blame guns, or taking God out of schools, or poor mental health care” … “The best I can think is one of cultural difference and societal structure”.

    You have highlighted the glaring societal differences between the United States and other western democracies that are high consumers of US media and culture, yet don’t suffer from the rate of gun crime: gun control, secular states, universal health care. And in the same breath you dismiss them?

    It’s no wonder that many US citizens take the same view as yourself that: “We must take this same acceptance of reality with active shooter or mass murder situations”. Unable to challenge the underlying assumptions that guns, god and the private sector are what’s best, you’re left to defend the status quo as an inevitability.

    Respectfully, I think that more can be done, than to ask kids to fend for themselves.

    • (your reply didn’t get eaten.. but it did get posted twice… and had to be moderated).

      Actually I do challege the assumption that “god is what’s best”. Or at least, I don’t believe any one religion should be taught in school. I think education is best when we present all that we can: show all religions, teach all sacred texts, expose our children to as much of the world as possible (even that which is controversial), to gain as much insight and awareness of what we have. Just don’t shove any one religion NOR present religion in a religious sense — it should be done as academic study. I just say this because I think you may have mis-taken my use of “taking God out of schools” as somehow advocating leaving it in or that it was the reason for this (I don’t agree with Huckabee). So, minor digression. 🙂

      Violence exists throughout history, across cultures. It is inescapable, and in fact required for social order. While levels and manifestations of violence may differ across groups, it still nonetheless exists. We should not limit our focus to just “gun crime” or “gun violence” because that’s a narrow view of a greater topic.

      The reason I say we need to accept it is because denial gets us no where. Does this mean I think I think we should be satisfied with the state of things? Certainly not. But we do better to have acceptance and understanding of the matter, because otherwise we’re just lying to ourselves and risk coming up with ineffective solutions. We must fully understand the problem before we can solve it.

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